Childhood eczema and hayfever leads to adult allergic asthma

A study conducted by the University of Melbourne, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Menzies Research Institute and Monash University has found that children with eczema, particularly those who also have hayfever, are more likely to develop allergic asthma in their 40s.

The study reported on evidence gathered in the largest clinical study of its kind in the world, the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS), which began in 1968 when 1400 seven-year old children were interviewed about their allergies and childhood environment. The participants were then followed up at age 44, in 2004.

Lead author Pamela Martin, a University of Melbourne PhD student based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, analysed the survey and skin prick testing data, and found that childhood eczema is a strong predictor of allergic asthma in later life. The implications are that prevention and treatment of childhood eczema may prevent the persistence and development of adult asthma.

This is the first study to differentiate between allergic and non-allergic asthma, and their occurrence after childhood eczema and hayfever, in a sequence of allergic illness called the ‘atopic march’ or ‘allergic march’.

Source: University of Melbourne

April 2011


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