Third-World Countries -- And Fewer Kids with Asthma

Health Professional

A global research study known as the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood, or ISAAC for short, published surprising findings in the last week. It seems their research has revealed that children who have existing allergies are much more likely to develop asthma if they live in affluent countries as opposed to less developed areas.

Allergies are considered a strong risk factor for developing asthma in children. But this link is strongest in affluent countries. Here are some more highlights of the study:

  • More than 54,000 questionnaires were analyzed
  • More than 31,000 skin ***** allergy tests were evaluated
  • IgE levels in 9,000 children from 22 countries were tested
  • Associations were examined between the asthma symptom, wheezing, and allergy reactions and compared between countries

The bottom line is that children who lived in affluent countries with allergies were four times more likely to have asthma than their non-allergic counterparts; in non-affluent countries, children with allergic responses were only 2.2 times as likely to have asthma.

According to one of the researchers, Renato T. Stein, M.D., Ph.D., of the Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil, these results mean "that local environmental factors may affect asthma and allergy in different ways."

Researchers aren't completely sure why these differences exist, but they have suggested that some factors that protect children with allergies from developing asthma are less present in affluent settings, and that gut flora might play a role in development of tolerance and immune function.

Factors that may play a part include:

  • nutrition
  • allergen exposure
  • bacterial exposure
  • housing conditions
  • exposure to pollutants

More research will be conducted related to these issues as well as related types of allergies such as eczema. Should be interesting to see what they find...