What is new in the prevention of atopy and asthma?

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Purpose of review

Increasing understanding of mechanisms and influencing factors in the development of uncontrolled inflammatory responses in atopy and asthma should serve for the introduction of new preventive measures. This review tries to present the current state of the art and resumes that until now, no really effective concept can be offered to families at risk.

Recent findings

In addition to modified feeding regimes (hydrolysed formula feeding in infancy), timing of the introduction of solids (avoidance of allergens versus early induction of tolerance), immune modulation using prebiotics or probiotics, a new target of potential intervention could be the human microbiome as a key player in the development of inflammatory diseases such as allergy and asthma. However, during the last 5 years, this concept could not yet be verified in interventional trials. There are new trials ongoing, studying the effect of microbial compounds in early infancy, vitamin D and polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation during late pregnancy and the effect of azithromycin in children with recurrent wheeze. Results are to be expected within the next couple of years.


New data on multifaceted intervention and the analysis of the human microbiome are to be expected. The recommendation for atopy and asthma prevention still focuses on avoidance of tobacco smoke exposure and food allergens during the first 4 months of life and feeding of hydrolysed formula if breast-feeding is not possible in high-risk infants, potentially early feeding of prebiotic sugars and/or certain strains of probiotic bacteria or bacterial compounds in certain subpopulations.

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