Immunity System 'Link to Asthma in Childhood'

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), May 15, 2014 | Go to article overview

Immunity System 'Link to Asthma in Childhood'


Byline: John von Radowitz Reporter newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

A VULNERABILITY to viral infections may explain why babies treated with antibiotics are at an increased risk of developing asthma, research has shown.

scientists found that infants given the drugs before their rst birthday were more than twice as likely as untreated children to experience severe asthma symptoms at age 11.

Previous research has also linked early antibiotic treatment with asthma. But the new ndings suggest it is not the drugs themselves but an immune system weakness that accounts for the link.

In the new study, the 11-yearolds with asthma were lacking in cytokines - signalling molecules which are the body's key defence against viral infections such as the common cold. Two gene variants in a chromosomal region known as 17q21 also marked out these children as more likely to be prescribed antibiotics as infants.

Lead scientist Professor Adnan Custovic, from the University of Manchester, said: "We speculate that hidden factors which increase the likelihood of both antibiotic prescription in early life and subsequent asthma are an increased susceptibility to viral infections due to impaired antiviral immunity and genetic variants on 17q21.

"However, further studies will be needed to con rm that the impaired immunity was present at the time of the early childhood respiratory symptoms and predated antibiotic prescribing rather than as a consequence of the antibiotics. …

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