Allergies are 'gender related'

Doctors have discovered a child's risk of developing an allergic disease is doubled if a parent of the same sex has suffered from it, new research has claimed.

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What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways - the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.

Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways Credit: Clive Gee/PA Archive

When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways, the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower and the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell.

Sometimes, sticky mucus or phlegm builds up, which can further narrow the airways.

These reactions cause the airways to become narrower and irritated - making it difficult to breath and leading to symptoms of asthma.

New research 'could help prevent asthma'

This study is exciting because it opens up interesting new avenues of research that could tell us more about the relative role of genes, environment and gender in terms of asthma risk, and enable us use this information to potentially prevent asthma in the future.

– Leanne Metcalf, assistant director of research and practice at Asthma UK

New research on eczema 'welcome'

This news is very interesting and sheds light on how eczema from parents can ultimately affect their children.

This news will hopefully spur a new wave of research looking into the differences between the sexes and the role in which a child is likely to develop the disease.

Although a large proportion of children will simply 'grow out' of eczema, for many adults, this is not the case, so any new developments in understanding the disease are most welcome.

– Bevis Man, from the British Skin Foundation charity

New findings on allergies 'groundbreaking'

With these groundbreaking findings, we should see a change in the way we assess a child's risk of disease, asking girls for the allergy history of their mother and boys for that of their father.

This work also opens up novel areas for further research in the genetics of allergy as to why this sex dependent effect occurs and, if we can find the reason, we can try to find a way of preventing sex-specific disease.

– Professor Hasan Arshad, Southampton General Hospital

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Children 'risk asthma' if parent of same sex has it

  • 1,456 patients were recruited from birth 23 years ago.
  • Research found that the risk of asthma in boys was only increased if their fathers suffered from the condition.
  • However, if mothers had asthma, it doubled the risk in their daughters but not sons.
  • Research also showed maternal eczema led to a 50% increased risk of eczema in girls, while paternal eczema did the same for boys.