Environmental allergens and childhood asthma

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Exposure to allergens has been shown to lead to sensitization and to the subsequent development of airway hyperresponsiveness in genetically predisposed individuals. Increasing interest is being devoted to mechanisms for the prevention of allergen sensitization and asthma development. Primary prevention (avoiding the sensitization to allergens) requires a large effort as the majority of atopic sensitizations occur in children with no demonstrable risk at the birth. Secondary prevention (deterrence of disease expression despite prior IgE sensitization) requires methods for detecting the population at risk by means of large population screening. Tertiary prevention (minimizing the morbidity for those who already have the disease) may be achieved by allergen avoidance, which has been demonstrated to effectively decrease inflammation in symptomatic patients.

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