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Womb clue to allergy

Tuesday October 26th, 2010

A baby's pace of growth in the womb seems to affect its chances of developing allergies or asthma, researchers have reported.

The findings have come as part of research into the effect of a mother's diet and lifestyle on her child's future health.

According to the researchers at Southampton University, UK, babies which grow quickly early in pregnancy - but then falter - are at high risk of developing asthma and allergy.

They found that 27 per cent of these children showed signs of allergy - compared with four per cent of those that grew fastest in late pregnancy.

The findings come from a study of more than 1,500 children aged three. Findings have been reported in the journal Thorax.

Researcher Professor Keith Godfrey said: "Childhood allergies and asthma have become an epidemic in developed countries over the last 50 years. This research shows that in order to combat this, we need to understand more about how babies develop in the womb.

"We already know that a baby’s growth in the womb has an important influence on susceptibility to obesity and heart disease in later life, but this research provides some of the most direct evidence yet that changes in how the baby’s immune system and lungs develops before birth can predispose them to some of the commonest childhood illnesses."

Ian Jarrold, of the British Lung Foundation, welcomed the findings.

He said: "Children’s lung health can be complex so this research, funded by the British Lung Foundation, is a considerable step forward in understanding why some children are more likely to develop allergies and asthma.

"The most commonly reported long-term illnesses in children and babies are conditions of the respiratory system. Increasing our understanding of childhood lung conditions is vital for developing new ways of diagnosing and treating lung diseases earlier in life."

Patterns of fetal and infant growth are related to atrophy and wheezing disorders at age 3. Katharine Pike, Sarah Crozier, Jane Lucas, Hazel Inskip, Sian Robinson, The Southampton Women’s Survey Group, Graham Roberts, Keith Godfrey. Thorax: DOI: 10.1136/thx.2010.134742

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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