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Atopy Can Cause Adult-onset Asthma

AsthmaMar 23, 06

New research shows that hereditary predisposition to develop asthma (atopy) is a determining factor in new cases on adult-onset asthma and that avoiding allergens may help prevent adults from developing asthma.

“Are atopy and specific IgE to mites and molds important for adult asthma?” is available in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), and online at http://www.jacionline.org. The JACI is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Researchers have long known that atopy is a strong determinant for the development of childhood asthma, but this study shows that adults are affected by atopy as well.

Maritta S. Jaakkola, MD, DSc, of the University of Birmingham and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and colleagues conducted their study in the Pirkanmaa District in southern Finland with 485 cases of adult-onset asthma and 665 controls. Asthmatics ages 21 to 63 who were diagnosed six months to two years previously participated in the study. Participants answered a questionnaire asking for information such as personal characteristics and work environment to whether or not they smoked. In addition to the questionnaire, blood serum samples were analyzed for antibodies and lung function measured.

Results from the study give valuable insight into why some adults may develop asthma and offer ways to reduce the risk of developing adult-onset asthma:

  • The odds of getting adult-onset asthma can be lessened by avoiding allergens that trigger atopy, according to the study.

  • The mites and molds most likely to trigger adult-onset asthma aren’t exotic invaders. They include house dust mites, storage mites and several molds that are commonly found in the home.

  • Since it is difficult to prevent allergies to pollen, the focus should be on reducing or avoiding other common allergens, according to the study. Those allergens include pets and other domestic animals, mites and molds that are often caused by indoor dampness problems.


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