Archive for February, 2012

The Risk For Allergy: Beyond The Hygiene Hypothesis

February 3, 2012

A recent study found that children born at term to woman with gestational diabetes are significantly more likely to have eczema (odds ratio 7.2) and to have positive allergy testing to common foods allergens as well as common environmental allergens.  This is of particular interest since it points to factors other than those relating to the hygiene hypothesis that may be contributing to the increased incidence of allergy in children.  Maternal obesity is associated with the development of gestational diabetes and we are currently witnessing increased rates of obesity and the metabolic syndrome as well as allergy in western societies.  The findings of this study suggest that there might be an early life link between these two medical problems.  This link could be the result of the stress that gestational diabetes places on the developing infant, especially during the third trimester.  Stress can definitely impact the developing immune system and potentially drive the developing immune system toward allergy.  Another recent study found an increased level of IgE (the allergen antibody) in infants born to woman who experience chronic interpersonal trauma compared to woman who report not experiencing any interpersonal trauma.  The impact of both physical and psychological stress on the immune system and the development of allergy needs to be more fully explored.

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