Genetic variations newly associated with risk for childhood asthma suggest that allergy sensitivity may be the effect, rather than the cause of asthma

Two studies have mapped new regions of the genome associated with childhood asthma. The first, from researchers at the Center for Applied Genomics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, analysed 1,700 children with asthma and 3,500 control children of European ancestry. They identified several genetic variants on chromosome 1 associated with the risk of developing childhood asthma, which they then also found to be associated with the risk for asthma in a sample of 1,600 African American children and over 2,000 controls.

The second study, by the GABRIEL consortium, identified associations between variants on other chromosomes and asthma in individuals with European ancestry with stronger effects for childhood asthma. They also found that an association between chromosome 17 and asthma was specific only to childhood asthma. In addition, they also found very little genetic overlap between asthma and allergy susceptibility, which suggests that allergy sensitivity is an effect of asthma, rather than its cause.

Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

First Published in January 2011

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