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1.  Maternal late-pregnancy serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in relation to childhood wheeze and atopic outcomes 
Thorax  2012;67(11):950-956.
Background
Studies exploring the relationship between prenatal vitamin D exposure and childhood asthma have yielded conflicting results. Higher vitamin D intake during pregnancy has been shown to lower the risk of childhood wheeze, yet a study of maternal late-pregnancy serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D suggested higher serum concentrations may be associated with increased childhood asthma.
Objective
To assess the relationship between mothers’ serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and asthma and wheeze phenotypes in their children at age 6 years. Secondly, to explore the relationship between maternal 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and objective measures of childhood atopy and lung function.
Methods
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was measured at 34 weeks’ gestation in the mothers of 860 children born at term. Wheeze was classified as either transient or persistent/late using questionnaire data collated from 6, 12, 24 and 36 months and 6 years. At 6 years spirometry was performed and atopic status was determined by skin prick testing, exhaled nitric oxide was measured in 451 and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in 216 children.
Results
There were no significant associations between maternal late-pregnancy 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and either asthma or wheeze at age 6 years. Maternal vitamin D status was not associated with transient or persistent/late wheeze; no significant association was found between persistent/late wheeze when subdivided according to atopic status. No associations were found with skin sensitisation or lung function.
Conclusions
This study provides no evidence that exposure to higher concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in maternal serum during late pregnancy increases the risk of childhood asthma, wheeze or atopy.
doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-201888
PMCID: PMC3679514  PMID: 22707522
asthma epidemiology; asthma; paediatric asthma
2.  THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MATERNAL ADIPOSITY AND INFANT WEIGHT GAIN AND CHILDHOOD WHEEZE AND ATOPY 
Thorax  2013;68(4):372-379.
Background
Obesity and asthma have increased in westernised countries. Maternal obesity may increase childhood asthma risk. If this relation is causal it may be mediated through factors associated with maternal adiposity, such as fetal development, pregnancy complications or infant adiposity. We investigated the relationships of maternal BMI and fat mass with childhood wheeze and examined the influences of infant weight gain and childhood obesity.
Methods
Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and estimated fat mass (from skinfold thicknesses) were related to asthma, wheeze and atopy in 940 children. Transient or persistent/late wheeze was classified using questionnaire data collected at ages 6, 12, 24 and 36 months and 6 years. At 6 years, skin prick testing was conducted and exhaled nitric oxide and spirometry measured. Infant adiposity gain was calculated from skinfold thickness at birth and 6 months.
Results
Greater maternal BMI and fat mass were associated with increased childhood wheeze (RR 1.08 per 5 kg m−2, p=0.006; RR 1.09 per 10 kg, p=0.003); these reflected associations with transient wheeze (RR 1.11, p=0.003; RR 1.13, p=0.002, respectively) but not with persistent wheeze or asthma. Infant adiposity gain was associated with persistent wheeze but not significantly. Adjusting for infant adiposity gain or BMI at 3 or 6 years did not reduce the association between maternal adiposity and transient wheeze. Maternal adiposity was not associated with offspring atopy, exhaled nitric oxide, or spirometry.
Discussion
Greater maternal adiposity is associated with transient wheeze but not asthma or atopy, suggesting effects upon airway structure/function but not allergic predisposition.
doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202556
PMCID: PMC3661999  PMID: 23291350
adiposity; body mass index; obesity; asthma; allergic sensitisation
3.  Effects of geohelminth infection and age on the associations between allergen-specific IgE, skin test reactivity and wheeze: a case-control study 
Background
Most childhood asthma in poor populations in Latin America is not associated with aeroallergen sensitization, an observation that could be explained by the attenuation of atopy by chronic helminth infections or effects of age.
Objective
To explore the effects of geohelminth infections and age on atopy, wheeze, and the association between atopy and wheeze.
Methods
A case-control study was done in 376 subjects (149 cases and 227 controls) aged 7–19 years living in rural communities in Ecuador. Wheeze cases, identified from a large cross-sectional survey, had recent wheeze and controls were a random sample of those without wheeze. Atopy was measured by the presence of allergen-specific IgE (asIgE) and skin prick test (SPT) responses to house dust mite and cockroach. Geohelminth infections were measured in stools and anti-Ascaris IgE in plasma.
Results
The fraction of recent wheeze attributable to anti-Ascaris IgE was 45.9%, while those for SPT and asIgE were 10.0% and 10.5% respectively. The association between atopy and wheeze was greater in adolescents than children. Although Anti-Ascaris IgE was strongly associated with wheeze (adj. OR 2.24 (95% CI 1.33–3.78, P = 0.003) and with asIgE (adj. OR 5.34, 95% CI 2.49–11.45, P < 0.001), the association with wheeze was independent of asIgE. There was some evidence that the association between atopy and wheeze was greater in uninfected subjects compared with those with active geohelminth infections.
Conclusions and clinical relevance
Atopy to house dust mite and cockroach explained few wheeze cases in our study population, while the presence of anti-Ascaris IgE was an important risk factor. Our data provided only limited evidence that active geohelminth infections attenuated the association between atopy and wheeze in endemic areas or that age modified this association. The role of allergic sensitization to Ascaris in the development of wheeze, independent of atopy, requires further investigation.
doi:10.1111/cea.12040
PMCID: PMC3563216  PMID: 23278881
allergen skin test reactivity; allergen-specific IgE; atopy; geohelminths; wheeze
4.  Validation of novel wheeze phenotypes using longitudinal airway function and atopic sensitisation data in the first 6 years of life: Evidence from the Southampton Women’s Survey. 
Pediatric pulmonology  2013;48(7):683-692.
Background
In 1995 the Tucson Children’s Respiratory Study (TCRS) identified clinically distinct phenotypes amongst early wheezers; the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children (ALSPAC) has recently re-examined these.
Objectives
To validate statistically derived ALSPAC phenotypes in the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS) using infant and 6 year lung function, and allergic sensitisation at 1, 3 and 6 years, comparing these with TCRS phenotypes.
Methods
Complete 6 year follow-up data were available for 926 children, selected from 1973 infants born to 12,579 women characterised pre-conception. 95 children had V’maxFRC and FEV0.4 measured age 5-14 weeks using rapid compression/raised volume techniques. At 6 years we performed spirometry (n=791), fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO, n=589) and methacholine challenge (n=234). Skin prick testing was performed at 12m, 3 and 6 years (n=1494, 1255, 699, respectively). Using wheeze status questionnaire data at 6m, 12m, 2, 3 and 6 years we classified children into TCRS (never, transient early, persistent, late-onset) and ALSPAC based groups (never, early, transient, intermediate-onset, late-onset, persistent).
Results
Amongst ALSPAC groups, persistent and late-onset wheeze were associated with atopy at 3 and 6 years, whilst intermediate-onset wheeze showed earlier atopic association at 1 year; all three were associated with FeNO at 6 years. Persistent wheezers had lower infant (V’maxFRC p<0.05) and 6 year lung function (FEV1, FEV1/FVC and FEF25-75, p<0.05), whilst late and intermediate-onset wheezers showed no lung function deficits. Transient wheezers were non-atopic but showed persistent lung function deficits (V’maxFRC in infancy, FEV1 and FEF25-75 at 6 years, all p<0.05). Those who wheezed only in the first year (early phenotype) showed no lung function deficits. No associations were seen with 6 years bronchial hyper-responsiveness or infancy FEV0.4.
Conclusion
SWS cohort data validates the statistically derived ALSPAC 6-class model. In particular, lung function and atopy successfully differentiate persistent, late-onset and intermediate-onset wheeze, whilst the Tucson ‘transient early’ wheeze phenotype can be sub-classified into groups that reflect early lung function. Since the 4-class model fails to adequately differentiate phenotypes based on lung function and atopy, we propose that strong consideration be given to using the 6-class paradigm for longitudinal outcome work in wheezing with onset in early life.
doi:10.1002/ppul.22766
PMCID: PMC3689612  PMID: 23401430
Wheeze; asthma; phenotype; lung function; cohort; atopy
5.  Influence of dog ownership and high endotoxin on wheezing and atopy during infancy 
Background
Increased exposure to microbial products early in life may protect from development of atopic disorders in childhood. Few studies have examined the relationship of endotoxin exposure and pet ownership on atopy and wheezing during infancy.
Objective
Evaluate relationships among high endotoxin exposure, pet ownership, atopy, and wheezing in high-risk infants.
Methods
Infants (n = 532; mean age, 12.5 ± 0.8 months) with at least 1 parent with confirmed atopy were recruited. A complete medical history and skin prick testing to foods and aeroallergens were performed at age 1 year. House dust samples were analyzed for endotoxin.
Results
Prevalences of wheezing were not independently associated with dog or cat ownership or endotoxin levels. Percutaneous reactivity to at least 1 allergen was observed in 28.6% of infants. Univariate analyses showed significant associations of any wheezing, recurrent wheezing, and recurrent wheezing with an event with daycare attendance, number of siblings, respiratory infections, maternal smoking, and history of parental asthma. Logistic regression adjusting for the latter variables showed that recurrent wheezing (odds ratio, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.1–0.9) as well as 2 other wheeze outcomes were significantly reduced in homes with high endotoxin exposure in the presence of 2 or more dogs.
Conclusion
Pet ownership or endotoxin did not independently modify aeroallergen sensitization or wheezing during infancy. However, high endotoxin exposure in the presence of multiple dogs was associated with reduced wheezing in infants. Clinical implications: A home environment with many dogs and high levels of endotoxin may be conducive to reduced wheezing in infancy.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2006.08.008
PMCID: PMC2233938  PMID: 17157656
Endotoxin; birth cohort; wheeze; house dust; pet ownership
6.  Factors influencing the relation of infant feeding to asthma and recurrent wheeze in childhood 
Thorax  2001;56(3):192-197.
BACKGROUND—The relationship between infant feeding and childhood asthma is controversial. This study tested the hypothesis that the relation between breast feeding and childhood asthma is altered by the presence of maternal asthma.
METHODS—Healthy non-selected newborn infants (n=1246) were enrolled at birth. Asthma was defined as a physician diagnosis of asthma plus asthma symptoms reported on ⩾2 questionnaires at 6, 9, 11or 13 years. Recurrent wheeze (⩾4 episodes in the past year) was reported by questionnaire at seven ages in the first 13 years of life. Duration of exclusive breast feeding was based on prospective physician reports or parental questionnaires completed at 18 months. Atopy was assessed by skin test responses at the age of 6years.
RESULTS—The relationship between breast feeding, asthma, and wheeze differed with the presence or absence of maternal asthma and atopy in the child. After adjusting for confounders, children with asthmatic mothers were significantly more likely to have asthma if they had been exclusively breast fed (OR 8.7, 95% CI 3.4 to 22.2). This relationship was only evident for atopic children and persisted after adjusting for confounders. In contrast, the relation between recurrent wheeze and breast feeding was age dependent. In the first 2 years of life exclusive breast feeding was associated with significantly lower rates of recurrent wheeze (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.2 to 0.9), regardless of the presence or absence of maternal asthma or atopy in the child. Beginning at the age of 6 years, exclusive breast feeding was unrelated to prevalence of recurrent wheeze, except for children with asthmatic mothers in whom it was associated with a higher odds ratio for wheeze (OR 5.7, 95% CI 2.3 to 14.1), especially if the child was atopic.
CONCLUSION—The relationship between breast feeding and asthma or recurrent wheeze varies with the age of the child and the presence or absence of maternal asthma and atopy in the child. While associated with protection against recurrent wheeze early in life, breast feeding is associated with an increased risk of asthma and recurrent wheeze beginning at the age of 6 years, but only for atopic children with asthmatic mothers.


doi:10.1136/thorax.56.3.192
PMCID: PMC1758780  PMID: 11182011
7.  Association between breast feeding and asthma in 6 year old children: findings of a prospective birth cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;319(7213):815-819.
Objectives
To investigate the association between the duration of exclusive breast feeding and the development of asthma related outcomes in children at age 6 years.
Design
Prospective cohort study.
Setting
Western Australia.
Subjects
2187 children ascertained through antenatal clinics at the major tertiary obstetric hospital in Perth and followed to age 6 years.
Main outcome measures
Unconditional logistic regression to model the association between duration of exclusive breast feeding and outcomes related to asthma or atopy at 6 years of age, allowing for several important confounders: sex, gestational age, smoking in the household, and early childcare.
Results
After adjustment for confounders, the introduction of milk other than breast milk before 4 months of age was a significant risk factor for all asthma and atopy related outcomes in children aged 6 years: asthma diagnosed by a doctor (odds ratio 1.25, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.52); wheeze three or more times since 1 year of age (1.41, 1.14 to 1.76); wheeze in the past year (1.31, 1.05 to 1.64); sleep disturbance due to wheeze within the past year (1.42, 1.07 to 1.89); age when doctor diagnosed asthma (hazard ratio 1.22, 1.03 to 1.43); age at first wheeze (1.36, 1.17 to 1.59); and positive skin prick test reaction to at least one common aeroallergen (1.30, 1.04 to 1.61).
Conclusion
A significant reduction in the risk of childhood asthma at age 6 years occurs if exclusive breast feeding is continued for at least the 4 months after birth. These findings are important for our understanding of the cause of childhood asthma and suggest that public health interventions to optimise breast feeding may help to reduce the community burden of childhood asthma and its associated traits.
Key messagesAsthma is the leading cause of admission to hospital in Australian children and its prevalence is increasingWhether breast feeding protects against asthma or atopy, or both, is controversialAsthma is a complex disease, and the relative risks between breast feeding and asthma or atopy are unlikely to be large; this suggests the need for investigation in a large prospective birth cohort with timely assessment of atopic outcomes and all relevant exposuresExclusive breast feeding for at least 4 months is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of asthma and atopy at age 6 years and with a significant delay in the age at onset of wheezing and asthma being diagnosed by a doctorPublic health interventions to promote an increased duration of exclusive breast feeding may help to reduce the morbidity and prevalence of childhood asthma and atopy
PMCID: PMC314207  PMID: 10496824
8.  Early allergen exposure, skin prick responses, and atopic wheeze at age 5 in English children: a cohort study 
Thorax  2004;59(10):855-861.
Background: For many years it has been assumed that the risk of childhood respiratory allergies is related to allergen exposures in early life. There are, however, few prospective data in support. We aimed to examine this relationship in a representative cohort of children born in Ashford, Kent (UK).
Methods: 625 children (94% of those eligible) were followed from birth to the age of 5.5 years at which time 552 underwent skin prick testing to extracts of house dust mite and cat fur allergens. Maternal reports of wheeze in the last year were collected by interview. These outcomes were related to individual domestic concentrations of Der p 1 and Fel d I allergens estimated from dust collection at the age of 8 weeks.
Results: 10% of children were sensitised to house dust mite or cat at age 5.5 years; 7% had atopic wheeze. No significant relationships between allergen exposure and either sensitisation or wheeze were found but, on examination, the exposure-response relationships for both allergens and for each outcome rose steeply at low levels of exposure and were attenuated at high levels of exposure. These patterns were modified by paternal atopy and by birth order.
Conclusions: There are no linear relationships between early allergen exposure and the induction of childhood respiratory allergy; rather, the risks of IgE sensitisation and asthma rise at very low levels of exposure and are attenuated thereafter. These patterns are influenced by parental atopy and birth order. These findings suggest important gene-environment interactions in the development of atopy and asthma and imply that reductions in domestic allergen exposure alone are unlikely to have a major impact in decreasing the incidence of these diseases in childhood.
doi:10.1136/thx.2003.019877
PMCID: PMC1746847  PMID: 15454651
9.  Developmental Profiles of Eczema, Wheeze, and Rhinitis: Two Population-Based Birth Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(10):e1001748.
Using data from two population-based birth cohorts, Danielle Belgrave and colleagues examine the evidence for atopic march in developmental profiles for allergic disorders.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The term “atopic march” has been used to imply a natural progression of a cascade of symptoms from eczema to asthma and rhinitis through childhood. We hypothesize that this expression does not adequately describe the natural history of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis during childhood. We propose that this paradigm arose from cross-sectional analyses of longitudinal studies, and may reflect a population pattern that may not predominate at the individual level.
Methods and Findings
Data from 9,801 children in two population-based birth cohorts were used to determine individual profiles of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis and whether the manifestations of these symptoms followed an atopic march pattern. Children were assessed at ages 1, 3, 5, 8, and 11 y. We used Bayesian machine learning methods to identify distinct latent classes based on individual profiles of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis. This approach allowed us to identify groups of children with similar patterns of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis over time.
Using a latent disease profile model, the data were best described by eight latent classes: no disease (51.3%), atopic march (3.1%), persistent eczema and wheeze (2.7%), persistent eczema with later-onset rhinitis (4.7%), persistent wheeze with later-onset rhinitis (5.7%), transient wheeze (7.7%), eczema only (15.3%), and rhinitis only (9.6%). When latent variable modelling was carried out separately for the two cohorts, similar results were obtained. Highly concordant patterns of sensitisation were associated with different profiles of eczema, rhinitis, and wheeze. The main limitation of this study was the difference in wording of the questions used to ascertain the presence of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis in the two cohorts.
Conclusions
The developmental profiles of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis are heterogeneous; only a small proportion of children (∼7% of those with symptoms) follow trajectory profiles resembling the atopic march.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Our immune system protects us from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens by recognizing specific molecules on the invader's surface and initiating a sequence of events that culminates in the death of the pathogen. Sometimes, however, our immune system responds to harmless materials (allergens such as pollen) and triggers allergic, or atopic, symptoms. Common atopic symptoms include eczema (transient dry itchy patches on the skin), wheeze (high pitched whistling in the chest, a symptom of asthma), and rhinitis (sneezing or a runny nose in the absence of a cold or influenza). All these symptoms are very common during childhood, but recent epidemiological studies (examinations of the patterns and causes of diseases in a population) have revealed age-related changes in the proportions of children affected by each symptom. So, for example, eczema is more common in infants than in school-age children. These findings have led to the idea of “atopic march,” a natural progression of symptoms within individual children that starts with eczema, then progresses to wheeze and finally rhinitis.
Why Was This Study Done?
The concept of atopic march has led to the initiation of studies that aim to prevent the development of asthma in children who are thought to be at risk of asthma because they have eczema. Moreover, some guidelines recommend that clinicians tell parents that children with eczema may later develop asthma or rhinitis. However, because of the design of the epidemiological studies that support the concept of atopic march, children with eczema who later develop wheeze and rhinitis may actually belong to a distinct subgroup of children, rather than representing the typical progression of atopic diseases. It is important to know whether atopic march adequately describes the natural history of atopic diseases during childhood to avoid the imposition of unnecessary strategies on children with eczema to prevent asthma. Here, the researchers use machine learning techniques to model the developmental profiles of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis during childhood in two large population-based birth cohorts by taking into account time-related (longitudinal) changes in symptoms within individuals. Machine learning is a data-driven approach that identifies structure within the data (for example, a typical progression of symptoms) using unsupervised learning of latent variables (variables that are not directly measured but are inferred from other observable characteristics).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from two UK birth cohorts—the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and the Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study (MAAS)—for their study (9,801 children in total). Both studies enrolled children at birth and monitored their subsequent health at regular review clinics. At each review clinic, information about eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis was collected from the parents using validated questionnaires. The researchers then used these data and machine learning methods to identify groups of children with similar patterns of onset of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis over the first 11 years of life. Using a type of statistical model called a latent disease profile model, the researchers found that the data were best described by eight latent classes—no disease (51.3% of the children), atopic march (3.1%), persistent eczema and wheeze (2.7%), persistent eczema with later-onset rhinitis (4.7%), persistent wheeze with later-onset rhinitis (5.7%), transient wheeze (7.7%), eczema only (15.3%), and rhinitis only (9.6%).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, in two large UK birth cohorts, the developmental profiles of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis were heterogeneous. Most notably, the progression of symptoms fitted the profile of atopic march in fewer than 7% of children with symptoms. The researchers acknowledge that their study has some limitations. For example, small differences in the wording of the questions used to gather information from parents about their children's symptoms in the two cohorts may have slightly affected the findings. However, based on their findings, the researchers propose that, because eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis are common, these symptoms often coexist in individuals, but as independent entities rather than as a linked progression of symptoms. Thus, using eczema as an indicator of subsequent asthma risk and assigning “preventative” measures to children with eczema is flawed. Importantly, clinicians need to understand the heterogeneity of patterns of atopic diseases in children and to communicate this variability to parents when advising them about the development and resolution of atopic symptoms in their children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001748.
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about eczema (including personal stories), asthma (including personal stories), and rhinitis
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information about atopic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about atopic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on eczema, wheezing, and rhinitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and asthma (in English and Spanish)
Information about ALSPAC and MAAS is available
Wikipedia has pages on machine learning and latent disease profile models (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001748
PMCID: PMC4204810  PMID: 25335105
10.  The relationship between infant lung function and the risk of wheeze in the preschool years 
Pediatric pulmonology  2010;46(1):75-82.
Rationale
Premorbid infant lung function predicts childhood wheeze, but it is unclear whether lower infant lung function is most closely associated with atopic or non-atopic preschool wheeze.
Objective
To examine the association between premorbid infant lung function and preschool wheeze according to atopic or non-atopic wheeze phenotype. Additionally, to explore the relations of ADAM33 polymorphism with lung function during infancy, preschool wheeze and atopy.
Methods
Infant lung function was measured in147 healthy term infants aged 5-14 weeks. Raised volume rapid thoracoabdominal compression was performed to determine FEV0.4. Atopic status was determined by skin prick testing at 3 years and wheeze ascertained from parental questionnaires (1 and 3 years). ADAM33 polymorphisms were examined using haplotype analysis.
Measurements and Main Results
Early infancy V’maxFRC and FEV0.4 were lower in those who wheezed in the first year (p=0.002 and p=0.03), and lower V’maxFRC was associated with wheeze in the third year (p=0.006). Non-atopic children who wheezed in their third year of life had lower FEV0.4, compared to non-atopic children who did not wheeze (p=0.02), whilst atopic children with wheeze did not (p=0.4). No ADAM33 haplotype was associated with infant lung function, preschool wheeze or atopy after correction for multiple testing.
Conclusions
Lower premorbid infant lung function was present in infants who subsequently wheezed during the first and third years of life. Lower FEV0.4 was associated with non-atopic wheeze but not atopic wheeze at 3 years of age. The relation between ADAM33 polymorphism, infant lung function and preschool wheeze requires examination in larger studies.
doi:10.1002/ppul.21327
PMCID: PMC3685268  PMID: 20848581
wheeze; asthma; infant lung function; preschool; ADAM Proteins
11.  Parental and neonatal risk factors for atopy, airway hyper-responsiveness, and asthma. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1996;75(5):392-398.
BACKGROUND: Previous studies have not resolved the importance of several potential risk factors for the development of childhood atopy, airway hyperresponsiveness, and wheezing, which would allow the rational selection of interventions to reduce morbidity from asthma. Risk factors for these disorders were examined in a birth cohort of 1037 New Zealand children. METHODS: Responses to questions on respiratory symptoms and measurements of lung function and airway responsiveness were obtained every two to three years throughout childhood and adolescence, with over 85% cohort retention at age 18 years. Atopy was determined by skin prick tests at age 13 years. Relations between parental and neonatal factors, the development of atopy, and features of asthma were determined by comparison of proportions and logistic regression. RESULTS: Male sex was a significant independent predictor for atopy, airway hyper-responsiveness, hay fever, and asthma. A positive family history, especially maternal, of asthma strongly predicted childhood atopy, airway hyperresponsiveness, asthma, and hay fever. Maternal smoking in the last trimester was correlated with the onset of childhood asthma by the age of 1 year. Birth in the winter season increased the risk of sensitisation to cats. Among those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever, birth in autumn and winter also increased the risk of sensitisation to house dust mites. The number of siblings, position in the family, socioeconomic status, and birth weight were not consistently predictive of any characteristic of asthma. CONCLUSIONS: Male sex, parental atopy, and maternal smoking during pregnancy are risk factors for asthma in young children. Children born in winter exhibit a greater prevalence of sensitisation to cats and house dust mites. These data suggest possible areas for intervention in children at risk because of parental atopy.
PMCID: PMC1511782  PMID: 8957951
12.  Risk factors for atopic and non-atopic asthma in a rural area of Ecuador 
Thorax  2010;65(5):409-416.
Background
Asthma has emerged as an important public health problem of urban populations in Latin America. Epidemiological data suggest that a minority of asthma cases in Latin America may be associated with allergic sensitisation and that other mechanisms causing asthma have been overlooked. The aim of the present study was to investigate risk factors for atopic and non-atopic asthma in school-age children.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted among 3960 children aged 6–16 years living in Afro-Ecuadorian rural communities in Esmeraldas province in Ecuador. Allergic diseases and risk factors were assessed by questionnaire and allergic sensitisation by allergen skin prick reactivity.
Results
A total of 390 (10.5%) children had wheeze within the previous 12 months, of whom 14.4% had at least one positive skin test. The population-attributable fraction for recent wheeze associated with atopy was 2.4%. Heavy Trichuris trichiura infections were strongly inversely associated with atopic wheeze. Non-atopic wheeze was positively associated with maternal allergic symptoms and sedentarism (watching television (>3 h/day)) but inversely associated with age and birth order.
Conclusions
The present study showed a predominance of non-atopic compared with atopic wheeze among schoolchildren living in a poor rural region of tropical Latin America. Distinct risk factors were associated with the two wheeze phenotypes and may indicate different causal mechanisms. Future preventive strategies in such populations may need to be targeted at the causes of non-atopic wheeze.
doi:10.1136/thx.2009.126490
PMCID: PMC2988616  PMID: 20435862
Asthma; asthma epidemiology; atopy; children; Ecuador; risk factors
13.  Peak flow variability, methacholine responsiveness and atopy as markers for detecting different wheezing phenotypes in childhood 
Thorax  1997;52(11):946-952.
BACKGROUND: There is increasing evidence that wheezing during childhood may be a heterogeneous condition, and that different forms of wheezing may be associated with different risk factors and prognosis. The aim of this study was to determine if measures of airway lability and of atopy could identify distinct wheezing phenotypes during childhood. METHOD: In a cohort of children followed from birth peak flow variability (n = 600) was evaluated and methacholine challenge responsiveness (n = 397) was measured at age 11 in relation to wheezing before the age of three, and at age six and 11 years total serum IgE and skin test reactivity to allergens were determined. RESULTS: Neither positive peak flow variability nor methacholine hyperresponsiveness measured at age 11 were associated with wheezing occurring only during the first three years of life. Both methacholine hyperresponsiveness and positive peak flow variability were associated with wheezing at both ages six and 11 (OR 5.1 (95% CI 2.4 to 10.6) and 2.3 (1.2 to 4.5), respectively). In addition, positive peak flow variability was associated with wheezing up to the age of six but not at age 11 in non-atopic children (OR 2.9 (95% CI 1.0 to 8.8)). Methacholine hyperresponsiveness measured at age 11 was more frequently observed in boys (OR 2.1 (95% CI 1.2 to 3.5)) and was strongly associated with serum IgE levels measured at ages six and 11 (p < 0.001) and with positive skin test reactivity (OR 4.5 (95% CI 2.0 to 10.1)). Peak flow variability was unrelated to sex or markers of atopy (IgE and skin test reactivity). CONCLUSIONS: Methacholine responsiveness and peak flow variability assessed at age 11, together with markers of atopy (IgE and skin test reactivity to allergens) identify three different wheezing phenotypes in childhood: "transient early wheezing" limited to the first three years of life and unrelated to increased airway lability; "non-atopic wheezing" of the toddler and early school years associated with positive peak flow variability but not with methacholine hyperresponsiveness; and "IgE-associated wheeze/asthma" associated with persistent wheezing at any age and with methacholine hyperresponsiveness, peak flow variability, and markers of atopy. 



PMCID: PMC1758449  PMID: 9487341
14.  EARLY WHEEZING PHENOTYPES AND SEVERITY OF RESPIRATORY ILLNESS IN VERY EARLY CHILDHOOD. STUDY ON INTRAUTERINE EXPOSURE TO FINE PARTICLE MATTER 
Environment international  2009;35(6):877-884.
The main goal of the paper was to assess the pattern of risk factors having an impact on the onset of early wheezing phenotypes in the birth cohort of 468 two-year olds and to investigate the severity of respiratory illness in the two-year olds in relation to both wheezing phenotypes, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and personal PM2.5 exposure over pregnancy period (fine particulate matter). The secondary goal of the paper was to assess possible association of early persistent wheezing with the length of the baby at birth. Pregnant women were recruited from ambulatory prenatal clinics in the first and second trimester of pregnancy. Only women 18–35 years of age, who claimed to be non-smokers, with singleton pregnancies, without illicit drug use and HIV infection, free from chronic diseases were eligible for the study. In the statistical analysis of respiratory health of children multinomial logistic regression and zero-inflated Poisson regression models were used. Approximately one third of the children in the study sample experienced wheezing in the first two years of life and in about two third of cases (67%) the symptom developed already in the first year of life. The early wheezing was easily reversible and in about 70% of infants with wheezing the symptom receded in the second year of life. The adjusted relative risk ratio (RRR) of persistent wheezing increased with maternal atopy (RRR = 3.05; 95%CI: 1.30 – 7.15), older siblings (RRR = 3.05; 95%CI: 1.67 – 5.58) and prenatal ETS exposure (RRR= 1.13; 95%CI: 1.04 – 1.23), but was inversely associated with the length of baby at birth (RRR = 0.88; 95%CI: 0.76 – 1.01). The adjusted incidence risk ratios (IRR) of coughing, difficult breathing, runny/stuffy nose and pharyngitis/tonsillitis in wheezers were much higher than that observed among non-wheezers and significantly depended on prenatal PM2.5 exposure, older siblings and maternal atopy. The study shows a clear inverse association between maternal age or maternal education and respiratory illnesses and calls for more research efforts aiming at explanation of factors hidden behind proxy measures of quality of maternal care of babies. The data support the hypothesis that burden of respiratory symptoms in early childhood and possibly in later life may be programmed already in prenatal period when the respiratory system is completing its growth and maturation.
doi:10.1016/j.envint.2009.03.004
PMCID: PMC2709737  PMID: 19394697
wheezing phenotypes; respiratory symptoms; prenatal and postnatal environmental air quality; birth cohort study
15.  Is there an association between wheezing and constipation in preschool children? Explanations from a longitudinal birth cohort 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000237.
Objective
To assess whether wheezing and atopic dermatitis were associated with constipation in preschool children and to what extent shared risk factors contribute to this relationship.
Methods
A population-based sample of 4651 preschool children was used. At the age of 24, 36 and 48 months, a parental report of functional constipation was available according to the Rome II criteria, and data on atopic dermatitis and wheezing were available using age-adapted questionnaires from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Stepwise multivariate analyses were performed to assess whether body mass index, infection exposure, food allergy and infant nutrition, and parental stress explained the association between wheezing, atopic dermatitis and constipation.
Results
Out of 4651 children, 12–17% had functional constipation between 24 and 48 months. Symptoms of wheezing decreased from 20% to 12% and atopic dermatitis decreased from 30% to 18% at the age of 24 and 48 months respectively. Between the age of 24 and 48 months, wheezing symptoms were significantly associated with functional constipation (OR 1.17; 1.02 to 1.34) but these results were mainly explained by the child's exposure to infections and use of antibiotics (adjusted odds ratio 1.08; 95% CI 0.95 to 1.24). No significant association was found between symptoms of atopic dermatitis and functional constipation (OR 1.08; 95% CI 0.94 to 1.23).
Conclusions
These findings suggest that functional constipation coexists with wheezing in childhood but is mainly explained by the child's infection exposure and use of antibiotics. Therefore, an independent association between respiratory symptoms and functional bowel disorders as suggested in previous studies is questionable.
Article summary
Article focus
Constipation, wheezing and atopic dermatitis are common symptoms in children.
Functional bowel disorders are linked to asthma and atopy in adults.
Functional bowel disorders, asthma and atopic disease may share common risk-factors that may explain coexistence of these symptoms.
Key messages
Wheezing, but not atopic dermatitis, is associated with functional constipation in preschool children. The association is mainly explained by a history of infection exposure.
Hence, the association between wheezing and functional constipation is not independent. Further research is needed to explore whether this result also applies to the outcome of asthma.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Population-based study population. The study group were not selected according to medical care.
This study addresses a topical area that has not been studied sufficiently and can contribute to the discussion of how asthma or atopy may be associated with functional bowel disorders.
This study took into account multiple shared risk factors of wheezing and constipation to shed light on the suggested association in literature.
Symptoms were available only from parental-reported questionnaires. This may lead to misclassification of the symptoms.
Early wheezing in infancy is not a sufficient predictor of childhood asthma.
No data were available regarding parental concerns of the child's health status. Bias may occur when parents with high concerns are more likely to report symptoms in their child as wheezing, constipation and infectious disease.
No data were available on IgE sensitisation, thus conclusions on the assocation between allergic disease and constipation should be made with caution.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000237
PMCID: PMC3191603  PMID: 22021889
16.  Natural history of asthma in childhood--a birth cohort study. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1991;66(9):1050-1053.
A cohort of 67 babies at risk of developing atopic disorders was followed up prospectively for 11 years. Clinical assessment and skin prick allergen sensitivity testing were performed annually over the first five years. At 11 years the cohort was restudied, symptoms were assessed by questionnaire, and bronchial reactivity (BHR) to histamine was measured. On the basis of skin testing, 35 children were atopic and 32 remained non-atopic. The expression of atopy increased with age. The lifetime prevalence of eczema, wheeze, and hay fever were 46%, 63%, and 56% respectively. The yearly period prevalence of hay fever increased with age, that of eczema declined, while that for wheeze showed a bimodal distribution with a peak before the age of 2 years and a gradual increase thereafter. Of the 21 children who wheezed before their second birthday, most never wheezed again and did not show BHR at 11 years. Of the 21 children whose first wheezing was after 2 years of age, 17 were still wheezing at 11 years and 12 showed BHR. Of the children who wheezed before 2 years of age, 10 were or became atopic, compared with 20 of the 23 children who wheezed at 11 years. These findings suggest that childhood asthma is a heterogeneous condition with atopy being strongly associated with the persistence of wheeze.
PMCID: PMC1793050  PMID: 1929511
17.  Exhaled nitric oxide and asthma: complex interactions between atopy, airway responsiveness, and symptoms in a community population of children 
Thorax  2003;58(12):1048-1052.
Background: Exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) is raised in asthmatic children, but there are inconsistencies in the relationship between FENO and characteristics of asthma, including atopy, increased airway responsiveness (AR), and airway inflammation. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between FENO and asthma, atopy, and increased AR in children.
Methods: One hundred and fifty five children (79 boys) of mean age 11.5 years underwent an assessment that included FENO measurements, spirometric tests, inhaled histamine challenge, and a skin prick test. Blood was collected for eosinophil count. Current and past asthma like symptoms were determined by questionnaire.
Results: In multiple linear regression analyses FENO was associated with atopy (p<0.001), level of AR (p = 0.005), blood eosinophil count (p = 0.007), and height (p = 0.002) but not with physician diagnosed asthma (p = 0.1) or reported wheeze in the last 12 months (p = 0.5). Separate regression models were conducted for atopic and non-atopic children and associations between FENO and AR, blood eosinophils and height were only evident in atopic children. Exhaled NO was raised in children with a combination of atopy and increased AR independent of symptoms.
Conclusion: Raised FENO seems to be associated with an underlying mechanism linking atopy and AR but not necessarily respiratory symptoms.
doi:10.1136/thorax.58.12.1048
PMCID: PMC1746531  PMID: 14645971
18.  Exhaled nitric oxide levels in atopic children: relation to specific allergic sensitisation, AHR, and respiratory symptoms 
Thorax  2002;57(6):518-523.
Background: Exhaled nitric oxide (eNO), which has been proposed as a measure of airway inflammation, is increased in atopic subjects. This raises the question of whether eNO provides any additional information about airway inflammation in asthmatic subjects, other than as a marker for atopy. A study was undertaken to determine whether eNO levels in a population of atopic children are associated with sensitisation or natural exposure to specific allergens, and to examine the relationship between eNO, airway responsiveness, and current respiratory symptoms.
Methods: Exhaled NO and airway responsiveness to histamine were measured in winter and in summer in 235 children aged 8–14 years who had been classified as atopic by skin prick testing. Current respiratory symptoms, defined as wheeze or cough during the month preceding the test, were measured by a parent completed questionnaire. Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) was defined as a dose response ratio (DRR) of >8.1 (% fall in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)/µmol + 3).
Results: Sensitisation to house dust mite was associated with raised eNO levels in winter while sensitisation to Cladosporium was associated with raised eNO levels in both winter and summer. Grass pollen sensitisation was not associated with raised eNO levels in either season. Exhaled NO correlated significantly with DRR histamine (r=0.43, p<0.001) independently of whether the children had current symptoms or not. In children with current wheeze, those with AHR had eNO levels 1.53 (95% CI 1.41 to 1.66) times higher than those without AHR (p=0.006). Neither DRR (p=1.0) nor eNO levels (p=0.92) differed significantly between children with or without persistent dry cough in the absence of wheeze.
Conclusions: In atopic children, raised eNO levels are associated with sensitisation to perennial allergens, but not to seasonal allergens such as grass pollen. In this population, an increase in eNO is associated with AHR and current wheezing, suggesting that eNO is more than just a marker for atopy.
doi:10.1136/thorax.57.6.518
PMCID: PMC1746345  PMID: 12037227
19.  Frequent use of chemical household products is associated with persistent wheezing in pre-school age children 
Thorax  2005;60(1):45-49.
Background: In the UK and other developed countries the prevalence of asthma symptoms has increased in recent years. This is likely to be the result of increased exposure to environmental factors. A study was undertaken to investigate the association between maternal use of chemical based products in the prenatal period and patterns of wheeze in early childhood.
Methods: In the population based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), the frequency of use of 11 chemical based domestic products was determined from questionnaires completed by women during pregnancy and a total chemical burden (TCB) score was derived. Four mutually exclusive wheezing patterns were defined for the period from birth to 42 months based on parental questionnaire responses (never wheezed, transient early wheeze, persistent wheeze, and late onset wheeze). Multinomial logistic regression models were used to assess the relationship between these wheezing outcomes and TCB exposure while accounting for numerous potential confounding variables. Complete data for analysis was available for 7019 of 13 971 (50%) children.
Results: The mean (SD) TCB score was 9.4 (4.1), range 0–30. Increased use of domestic chemical based products was associated with persistent wheezing during early childhood (adjusted odds ratio (OR) per unit increase of TCB 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03 to 1.09)) but not with transient early wheeze or late onset wheeze. Children whose mothers had high TCB scores (>90th centile) were more than twice as likely to wheeze persistently throughout early childhood than children whose mothers had a low TCB score (<10th centile) (adjusted OR 2.3 (95% CI 1.2 to 4.4)).
Conclusion: These findings suggest that frequent use of chemical based products in the prenatal period is associated with persistent wheezing in young children. Follow up of this cohort is underway to determine whether TCB is associated with wheezing, asthma, and atopy at later stages in childhood.
doi:10.1136/thx.2004.021154
PMCID: PMC1747149  PMID: 15618582
20.  Influence of atopy and asthma on exhaled nitric oxide in an unselected birth cohort study 
Thorax  2010;65(3):258-262.
Background
Asthma is considered to be associated with elevated levels of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO). The nature of this relationship and how it is influenced by atopy are still not resolved.
Methods
The Isle of Wight birth cohort (N=1456) was reassessed at 18 years of age. Participants able to attend the research centre were assessed by questionnaires, skin prick testing and FeNO in order to explore the interrelationship between asthma, atopy and FeNO.
Results
Atopy was significantly associated with higher levels of FeNO. However, the level of FeNO for non-atopic asthmatic participants was no different to the non-atopic no-asthma group. The highest levels of FeNO were seen in subjects with both atopy and asthma. In addition, FeNO was positively associated with increasing atopic burden as evidenced by increasing FeNO with increasing skin prick testing positivity, and with increasing severity of atopic asthma as evidenced by the number of attacks of wheezing. FeNO and current inhaled corticosteroid use were not significantly associated.
Conclusions
FeNO behaves as a biomarker of atopy and the “allergic asthma” phenotype rather than asthma itself. This may explain why FeNO-guided asthma treatment outcomes have proved to be of limited success where atopic status has not been considered and accounted for.
doi:10.1136/thx.2009.125443
PMCID: PMC2890070  PMID: 20335297
21.  Prenatal Vitamin D Supplementation and Child Respiratory Health: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66627.
Background
Observational studies suggest high prenatal vitamin D intake may be associated with reduced childhood wheezing. We examined the effect of prenatal vitamin D on childhood wheezing in an interventional study.
Methods
We randomised 180 pregnant women at 27 weeks gestation to either no vitamin D, 800 IU ergocalciferol daily until delivery or single oral bolus of 200,000 IU cholecalciferol, in an ethnically stratified, randomised controlled trial. Supplementation improved but did not optimise vitamin D status. Researchers blind to allocation assessed offspring at 3 years. Primary outcome was any history of wheeze assessed by validated questionnaire. Secondary outcomes included atopy, respiratory infection, impulse oscillometry and exhaled nitric oxide. Primary analyses used logistic and linear regression.
Results
We evaluated 158 of 180 (88%) offspring at age 3 years for the primary outcome. Atopy was assessed by skin test for 95 children (53%), serum IgE for 86 (48%), exhaled nitric oxide for 62 (34%) and impulse oscillometry of acceptable quality for 51 (28%). We found no difference between supplemented and control groups in risk of wheeze [no vitamin D: 14/50 (28%); any vitamin D: 26/108 (24%) (risk ratio 0.86; 95% confidence interval 0.49, 1.50; P = 0.69)]. There was no significant difference in atopy, eczema risk, lung function or exhaled nitric oxide between supplemented groups and controls.
Conclusion
Prenatal vitamin D supplementation in late pregnancy that had a modest effect on cord blood vitamin D level, was not associated with decreased wheezing in offspring at age three years.
Trial Registration
Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN68645785
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066627
PMCID: PMC3691177  PMID: 23826104
22.  Mouse allergen exposure, wheeze and atopy in the first seven years of life 
Allergy  2008;63(11):1512-1518.
Background
Little is known about mouse allergen exposure in home environments and the development of wheezing, asthma and atopy in childhood.
Objective
To examine the relation between mouse allergen exposure and wheezing, atopy, and asthma in the first 7 years of life.
Methods
Prospective study of 498 children with parental history of allergy or asthma followed from birth to age 7 years, with longitudinal questionnaire ascertainment of reported mouse exposure and dust sample mouse urinary protein allergen levels measured at age 2–3 months.
Results
Parental report of mouse exposure in the first year of life was associated with increased risk of transient wheeze and wheezing in early life. Current report of mouse exposure was also significantly associated with current wheeze throughout the first 7 years of life in the longitudinal analysis (P = 0.03 for overall relation of current mouse to current wheeze). However, early life mouse exposure did not predict asthma, eczema or allergic rhinitis at age 7 years. Exposure to detectable levels of mouse urinary protein in house dust samples collected at age 2–3 months was associated with a twofold increase in the odds of atopy (sensitization to >=1 allergen) at school age (95% confidence interval for odds ratio = 1.1–3.7; P = 0.03 in a multivariate analysis.
Conclusions
Among children with parental history of asthma or allergies, current mouse exposure is associated with increased risk of wheeze during the first 7 years of life. Early mouse exposure was associated with early wheeze and atopy later in life.
doi:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01679.x
PMCID: PMC2574689  PMID: 18616677
childhood asthma; indoor allergens; mouse allergen
23.  Socioeconomic and Sociodemographic Factors Associated with Asthma Related Outcomes in Early Childhood: The Generation R Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78266.
Rationale
Few studies have analyzed the association of socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors with asthma related outcomes in early childhood, including Fraction of exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) and airway resistance (Rint). We examined the association of socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors with wheezing, asthma, FeNO and Rint at age 6 years. Additionally, the role of potential mediating factors was studied.
Methods
The study included 6717 children participating in The Generation R Study, a prospective population-based cohort study. Data on socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors, wheezing and asthma were obtained by questionnaires. FeNO and Rint were measured at the research center. Statistical analyses were performed using logistic and linear regression models.
Results
At age 6 years, 9% (456/5084) of the children had wheezing symptoms and 7% (328/4953) had asthma. Children from parents with financial difficulties had an increased risk of wheezing (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) = 1.63, 95% Confidence Interval (CI):1.18–2.24). Parental low education, paternal unemployment and child's male sex were associated with asthma, independent of other socioeconomic or sociodemographic factors (aOR = 1.63, 95% CI:1.24–2.15, aOR = 1.85, 95% CI:1.11–3.09, aOR = 1.58, 95% CI:1.24–2.01, respectively). No socioeconomic or gender differences in FeNO were found. The risks of wheezing, asthma, FeNO and Rint measurements differed between ethnic groups (p<0.05). Associations between paternal unemployment, child's sex, ethnicity and asthma related outcomes remained largely unexplained.
Conclusions
This study showed differences between the socioeconomic and sociodemographic correlates of wheezing and asthma compared to the correlates of FeNO and Rint at age 6 years. Several socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors were independently associated with wheezing and asthma. Child's ethnicity was the only factor independently associated with FeNO. We encourage further studies on underlying pathways and public health intervention programs, focusing on reducing socioeconomic or sociodemographic inequalities in asthma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078266
PMCID: PMC3823924  PMID: 24244299
24.  INTRAUTERINE EXPOSURE TO POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS, FINE PARTICULATE MATTER AND EARLY WHEEZE. PROSPECTIVE BIRTH COHORT STUDY IN 4-YEAR OLDS 
The main goal of the study was to determine the relationship between prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) measured by PAH-DNA adducts in umbilical cord blood and early wheeze. The level of PAH-DNA adducts in the cord blood is assumed to reflect the cumulative dose of PAHs absorbed by the fetus over the prenatal period. The effect of prenatal PAH exposure on respiratory health measured by the incidence rate ratio (IRR) for the number of wheezing days in the subsequent four year follow-up was adjusted for potential confounding factors such as personal prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), gender of child, maternal characteristics (age, education and atopy), parity, and mold/dampness in the home. The study sample includes 339 newborns of non-smoking mothers 18-35 years of age and free from chronic diseases, who were recruited from ambulatory prenatal clinics in the first or second trimester of pregnancy. The number of wheezing days during the first two years of life was positively associated with prenatal level of PAH-DNA adducts (IRR = 1.69, 95%CI = 1.52 – 1.88), prenatal particulate matter (PM2.5) level dichotomized by the median (IRR = 1.38; 95%CI: 1.25 – 1.51), maternal atopy (IRR = 1.43; 95%CI: 1.29 – 1.58), moldy/damp house (IRR = 1.43; 95%CI: 1.27 – 1.61). The level of maternal education and maternal age at delivery were inversely associated with the IRRs for wheeze. The significant association between frequency of wheeze and the level of prenatal environmental hazards (PAHs and PM2.5) was not observed at ages 3 or 4 years. Although the frequency of wheezing at ages 3 or 4 years was no longer associated with prenatal exposure to PAHs and PM2.5, its occurrence depended on the presence of wheezing in the first two years of life, which nearly tripled the risk of wheezing in later life. In conclusion, the findings may suggest that driving force for early wheezing (<24 months of age) are different to those leading to later onset of wheeze. As we reported no synergistic effects between prenatal PAH (measured by PAH-DNA adducts) and PM2.5 exposures on early wheeze, this suggests the two exposures may exert independent effects via different biological mechanism on wheeze.
doi:10.1111/j.1399-3038.2010.01034.x
PMCID: PMC3683604  PMID: 20444151
prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; biomarkers of exposure; DNA adducts; early wheeze; 4-year olds; birth cohort study
25.  Maternal intestinal flora and wheeze in early childhood 
Background
Increasing evidence links altered intestinal flora in infancy to eczema and asthma. No studies have investigated the influence of maternal intestinal flora on wheezing and eczema in early childhood.
Objective
To investigate the link between maternal intestinal flora during pregnancy and development of wheeze and eczema in infancy.
Methods
Sixty pregnant women from the Boston area gave stool samples during the third trimester of their pregnancy and answered questions during pregnancy about their own health, and about their children’s health when the child was 2 and 6 months of age. Quantitative culture was performed on stool samples and measured in log10colony-forming units(CFU)/gram stool. Primary outcomes included infant wheeze and eczema in the first 6 months of life. Atopic wheeze, defined as wheeze and eczema, was analyzed as a secondary outcome.
Results
In multivariate models adjusted for breastfeeding, daycare attendance and maternal atopy, higher counts of maternal total aerobes (TA) and enterococci (E) were associated with increased risk of infant wheeze (TA: OR 2.32 for 1 log increase in CFU/g stool [95% CI 1.22, 4.42]; E: OR 1.57 [95% CI 1.06, 2.31]). No organisms were associated with either eczema or atopic wheeze.
Conclusions & Clinical Relevance
In our cohort, higher maternal total aerobes and enterococci were related to increased risk of infant wheeze. Maternal intestinal flora may be an important environmental exposure in early immune system development.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2011.03950.x
PMCID: PMC3428746  PMID: 22909161
infant wheeze; eczema; asthma; microbiota; intestinal flora; maternal flora

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