Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Diet 'can cut risk of child asthma'

  • Comment

Protecting babies from highly allergenic foods and dust mites in their first year of life can prevent the development of asthma during childhood, a new study has discovered.

Researchers found that a child’s risk of developing the condition is reduced by more than half if their contact with common triggers of allergy from birth to 12 months is controlled.

Professor Hasan Arshad, a consultant in allergy at Southampton General Hospital, conducted the 23-year study.

“Although genetic links are arguably the most significant risk factor for asthma in children, environmental factors are the other critical component,” said Mr Arshad.

“Although this was a small study, we have found that the risk of developing asthma at some point during childhood is reduced by more than 50% if we introduce control of a child’s environment.”

Researchers assessed 120 patients with a family history of allergy who were recruited at birth 23 years ago to find out whether or not breastfeeding mothers and their children who avoided dairy products, eggs, soya, fish and nuts, along with the use of vinyl mattress covers and pesticides to kill dust mites, had a lower risk of developing asthma.

They performed follow-up at ages two, three, four, eight and 18 and found that while only 11% of those in the prevention group had developed asthma by age 18, more than a quarter (27%) of those who were naturally exposed to substances linked to allergic reactions had the condition.

Mr Arshad added: “By introducing a combined dietary and environmental avoidance strategy during the first year of life, we believe the onset of asthma can be prevented in the early years and throughout childhood up to the age of 18.

“Our finding of a significant reduction in asthma using the dual intervention of dust mite avoidance and diet modification is unique in terms of the comprehensive nature of the regime, the length of follow-up and the size of the effect observed.”

The research, published in the journal Thorax and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is the first study to show a persistent and significant reduction in asthma throughout childhood.

Mr Arshad, who is also chair in allergy and immunology at the University of Southampton and is based at the NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, said there was now an urgent need to replicate the findings in a large multicentre study.

Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.


  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs