Asthma and food allergies predictable as early as age one

Children at one year old who have eczema or atopic dermatitis (AD) and are sensitized to an allergen are seven times more likely than other infants to develop asthma, and significantly more likely to have a food allergy by age three.

This new finding from the Canadian CHILD Study will help doctors better predict which children will develop asthma and allergies, according to a paper published by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

It has long been known that infants with eczema or atopic dermatitis (AD) are more likely to develop asthma and allergic rhinitis in later childhood, a progression known as “the atopic march.” But predicting precisely which children with AD will go on to develop these conditions has been difficult.

The CHILD researchers did find that having AD alone, without sensitization to an allergen, did not significantly increase children’s risk of developing asthma.

“Over the years, the clinical community has struggled to explain the atopic march,” said Dr. Malcolm Sears, founding director of the CHILD Study, a professor of medicine at McMaster University and a researcher at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

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