Asthma is a chronic disease that often starts in childhood. The key risk factors are a child's environment and their genetic characteristics. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of environmental modification in the first 12 months of life on the prevalence of asthma in high-risk individuals.Methods
Children (n=120) considered at high risk of allergic disorders (either dual heredity or single heredity and a high cord total IgE), were enrolled in a single-blinded, randomised controlled trial. Infants in the intervention arm were either breast fed with the mother on a low allergen diet or given an extensively hydrolysed formula. Exposure to house dust mite allergen was reduced. The control group followed standard advice. Children were assessed at ages 1, 2, 4, 8 and 18 years for the presence of asthma and atopy.Results
At 18 years of age, there was a significantly lower prevalence of asthma in the prevention group compared with the control group (OR: 0.23, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.70, p=0.01), primarily due to asthma that developed during childhood but persisted until age 18 years. Repeated-measure analysis showed that there was an overall reduction in asthma prevalence from 1 to 18 years (OR: 0.51, CI 0.32 to 0.81, p=0.04). Prevalence of atopy was not significantly different between the two groups at age 18.Conclusion
Comprehensive allergen avoidance in the first year of life is effective in preventing asthma onset in individuals considered at high risk due to heredity. The effect occurs in the early years, but persists through to adulthood.