Allergies, specifically respiratory allergies, start in babies' first months

A prospective study by Dr Hans Bisgaard of the University of Copenhagen has found that neonatal levels of the urinary marker eosinophil protein-X predicted allergic sensitisation, nasal eosinophilia and eczema in children during their early school years. Eosinophil protein-X has been linked to pre-existing allergic sensitisation, severity of eczema and acute and chronic childhood asthma.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, suggest that the allergic disease process is well underway before any symptoms develop. Identifying these early biomarkers is useful for prevention of atopic disease as well as for intervention and treatment.

Three hundred and sixty nine babies were tested for the marker in a birth cohort born to asthmatic mothers. All the babies were symptom free when tested at one month old, and then 4% developed wheeze, dyspnea or cough, 27% developed eczema in their first year, and 15% and 17% developed these symptoms by 6 years old. The elevated levels of eosinophil protein-X predicted some of these risks.

The researchers noted that the mechanism behind pre-symptomatic eosinophil activation is not clear, and cautioned that their study only included babies at a high-risk of atopy due to their mothers’ history of asthma, which could limit generalisation.

Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

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First Published in July 2011

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