Study of Allergic Children Yields New Insights

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We have all heard about how allergies are on the rise, but a new population-based study offers some insight into just how allergies and asthma develop during childhood. As reported by ScienceDaily, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have found that 40 percent of nearly 5,000 two-year-olds had at least one allergy-related disorder.

Wheezing, the most common symptom, was reported in 26 percent of the children. However, it’s important to know that not all children who wheeze at the age of two will grow up with asthma. Ingeborg Smidesang, PhD candidate and primary author of the study, says, “One of the challenges here is that we don’t know which wheezers will develop asthma.”

The study is one of the first to demonstrate the scope of allergy-related problems in young children – a situation which parents of allergic children are all too familiar with. Smidesang points out, “If you think about something like moderate atopic eczema, which can involve quite a few doctor’s visits, and a lot of work on the part of the parents, it is quite a big deal.”

Published in an online version of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, the study also found that children may be receiving false positive diagnoses for allergies: One thousand of the 5,000 children in the study, or 21 percent, had been tested for allergies. Of these, about 60 percent had had a positive allergy test. However, the researchers’ sample showed that only 8 percent tested positive. Additionally, boys were more likely than girls to have an allergy-related disorder.

The study is part of a the Prevention of Allergy among Children in Trondheim (PACT), which began in 2000 to attempt to better understand how allergy-related symptoms develop in children as well as how effective various interventions, such as increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake, are.

With more research about allergies in children, we can only hope that one day we will understand not only how to treat them, but maybe even how to keep them from developing in the first place.

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