Researchers have recently discovered an interesting link between childhood allergic diseases and a child’s genetic basis. Turns out, a child will more likely suffer from a specific allergy if his or her parent of the same sex has it too.
A quick example: asthma. If a girl’s mother has or had the allergic disease, then her daughter has a higher chance of getting it. If a father has or had it, his son’s chance of having it is higher. The same is apparently true of eczema and other childhood allergic diseases, reports Medical New Today. This conclusion was reached by Professor Hasan Arshad, a consultant in allergy and immunology at Southampton General Hospital, who published the study along with his findings in the August issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The study: Arshad and others initiated an Isle of Wight (IOW) Birth Cohort Study (ideal for long-term studies due to a stable resident population) with the explicit aim of studying an entire population (about 130,000 people) for the development of asthma and other allergic diseases. Researchers were purposefully looking for relevant genetic and environmental risk factors.
Data on heredity and environmental exposures were collected from birth and updated in subsequent follow-ups. Detailed questionnaires were given to the parents of each child, asking about allergies like asthma, eczema, and rhinitis. Children underwent skin prick tests to common food and airborne allergens at ages 4, 10, and 18. Parents underwent similar assessments and probes into their own allergenic histories.
The results: Maternal asthma was linked to asthma in girls, paternal asthma was linked to asthma in boys. Similar patterns were found for eczema and other allergic diseases. “Similar trends were observed when the effect of maternal and paternal allergic disease was assessed for childhood atopy and when maternal total IgE levels were related to total IgE levels in children at ages 10 and 18 years,” explained the authors.
The allergy history of mothers and fathers may become a factor in future diagnosis and could change the way these diseases are assessed and prevented. The results of the study also open up the possibility of studying sex-dependent effects in hereditary diseases across the board; the goal being to one day find ways to prevent them.