Friday, May 21, 2010

Allergy Prevention May Be Able to Begin at Birth

Australian researchers say that a simple blood test for newborns can now predict their risk of developing allergies later in life.

The test looks for a protein marker, kinase C-zeta, which seems to be much lower in children prone to allergic reactions.

Professor Tony Ferrante, an immunologist from the Children's Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, says the new marker may be the most significant breakthrough in allergy testing for some decades.

The researchers are also looking at whether fish oil supplements given to both pregnant women and those who have just given birth can reduce the risks of the children developing allergies.

"There is evidence that the levels of this important protein increase with fish oil supplementation to protect against allergy development," Professor Ferrante says.

Australia, like North America has one of the highest allergy rates in the world, with 40% of children now suffering from allergic diseases, including food allergies, eczema, asthma and hay fever. These conditions frequently persist into adulthood, placing a heavy burden on the healthcare system.

“This is a fascinating breakthrough,” adds Jacqueline Corlett a residential Air Quality Specialist with AllerAir Industries. “Knowing right from the start that their child may be prone to allergies will give parents the opportunity to allergy-proof their homes early on. Small steps can greatly reduce the prevalence of airborne particles and chemicals that may trigger a reaction.”

Top Tips to Allergy Proof Your Home:

• Remove carpeting which traps dust and particles

• Reduce the use of chemicals in the home

• Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter

• Choose a high quality air cleaner that removes both airborne particles and chemicals

• Take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking in pollen and other particles

• Keep pets out of sleeping areas

• Regularly vacuum upholstery

• Once a month place soft toys in the freezer overnight to kill the dust mites and then wash to remove the remaining allergen

• Regularly wash bedding in hot water

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