Year in Allergy: Advances in Allergic Disease Research Strong
8, 2004 - NEWSdial.com)
Several advances in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic disease
were published throughout 2004 in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical
Immunology (JACI). The JACI is the peer-reviewed scientific journal
of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
Allergies and asthma have a major impact in the United States,
affecting over 50 million Americans and accounting for approximately
20 billion in healthcare costs each year.
"The rising prevalence and health care costs of allergic
disease has created a need for new research." said Donald
Y.M. Leung, MD, PhD, FAAAAI and Editor of the JACI. "The many
interesting articles published this year in the Journal of Allergy
and Clinical Immunology indicates heightened interest in this field
and highlights the great strides that are being made in the diagnosis
and treatment of this common group of illnesses."
The following are summaries of three important studies that were
featured in the JACI in 2004.
Early infection proves beneficial for allergies later in life
Children who have a fever before age one are less likely to develop
allergies at age 6-7 years, according to a study featured in
the February JACI. The study noted that fever was common in the
first year of life, affecting 46.9% of the children evaluated.
After evaluation at age 6 to 7 years, researchers discovered that
allergic sensitization and atopic asthma were significantly less
common among children who had fevers in their first year. Researchers
also found that each time a child had a fever, the odds of them
developing allergies later in life were reduced.
These findings provide direct support for the hygiene hypothesis,
which suggests that exposure to infections early in life decreases
the risk of developing allergies. More information is need about
the types of infections that protect against allergies and the
pathways by which they mediate their effect.
Man's best friend offers protection against allergies
Exposure to dogs in the first year of life enhances the development
of the immune system, which reduces allergic sensitization and
atopic dermatitis. These findings were featured in a study in
the February JACI by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Researchers found that home exposure to dogs, but not cats, in
the first year of life was associated with a reduction in atopic
dermatitis, an itchy skin rash common in allergic families. They
also discovered that dog exposure enhances the production of interleukin-10,
an immune system hormone with potent anti-inflammatory properties.
The findings raise the possibility that enhanced production of
the hormone IL-10 is responsible for a lower risk of developing
allergies. Greater understanding of mechanisms that modify immune
development to promote tolerance in infancy may lead to new preventative
strategies for allergic diseases.
Breastfeeding decreases asthma development
A study in the October 2004 JACI reported that breastfeeding reduces
the risk of asthma in children in the first four years of life.
Researchers evaluated the relationship between breastfeeding
and asthma in more than 4,000 newborns and discovered that four
year olds who had been exclusively breast-fed for the first four
months showed a lower risk of asthma.
The researchers had previously shown the same results in children
at 2 years of age. However, this study expanded on those findings,
showing that a more prolonged period of breastfeeding not only
reduced the risk of asthma during the first four years of life,
but it also appeared to reduce the severity of the disease as well.
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