Babies' diets key in asthma fight

Tags: Allergy

Cutting highly allergenic foods from babies' diets is a good way to prevent children developing asthma.

That's the finding from a 23-year study funded by the National Institute for Health Research that suggests if common allergy triggers like certain foods and house dust mites are controlled at the beginning of a child's life, the risk of them suffering asthma problems later on is reduced by more than 50%.

Professor Hasan Arshad, a consultant in allergies at Southampton General Hospital, led the research involving 120 people with family histories of allergy problems. He said although genetic links are a key factor in the likelihood of developing asthma, the environment a child lives in is also a considerable contributor and controlling that environment can drastically lower the chances of developing the condition.

The study involved breastfeeding mothers and children without highly allergenic foods such as dairy products, eggs, fish and nuts in their diets. They also used vinyl mattress covers and pesticides to kill house dust mites. It looked at the health of the youngsters every year between the ages of two and four and when they were eight and 18. Only 11% of them showed any signs of asthma, while 27% of children with normal exposure to the two common triggers became asthmatic.

The findings, which have been released in the Thorax journal, suggest that promoting these methods could lead to a significant drop in childhood asthma problems.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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