Study identifies early signs of atopy

July 13, 2011

A Danish study suggests that signs of atopy may be present long before symptoms begin, even in month-old babies, Medical News Today reports.

Copenhagen, Denmark - A Danish study suggests that signs of atopy may be present long before symptoms begin, even in month-old babies, Medical News Today reports.

The study, led by Hans Bisgaard, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen, found that levels of urinary eosinophil protein-X (u-EPX) - a marker of inflammatory cells - in newborn babies was linked to higher risk of allergic sensitization, nasal eosinophilia and eczema at age 6.

Investigators measured the levels of u-EPX and several other markers of inflammation in 369 healthy month-old infants born to asthmatic mothers. The children had their blood eosinophil count taken, and were evaluated for allergic sensitization to 16 common inhalant and food allergens, at 6 months, 18 months, 4 years and 6 years.

Researchers found that 4 percent of the children developed asthma-like symptoms and 27 percent were diagnosed with eczema during the first year of life. Another 17 percent went on to develop asthma-like symptoms and 15 percent developed eczema by age 6.

When the researchers analyzed the data for associations between infant levels of u-EPX and future symptoms and diagnoses, they found that elevated u-EPX at 1 month was associated with 49 percent increase in risk of allergic sensitization, an association that was statistically significant for both food and aeroallergens. Infants whose u-EPX was in the top quartile had a 40 percent greater risk for developing eczema by age 6 than those in the lower three quartiles.