A successful application was made to the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund the follow-up the children of the birth cohort. The intention is to study epigenetic driven immunological changes in the development of asthma and allergy in infancy.
It is believed that genetic predisposition, together with exposure to environmental factors, can lead to the development of asthma and allergies. The predisposition to these diseases seems to be established in a critical time window during pregnancy and early childhood but little is know about when and how this happens.
A huge amount of data exists on the birth cohort and their parents. This grant has given us the unique opportunity to study the 3rd Generation by looking at epigenetics – heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in sequence of the DNA.
We hope to establish, by studying the children of the birth cohort, whether environmental exposure experienced by the parents of grandparents of the child (such as smoking) has had an effect on the children of this generation. The focus is on immunological changes occuring before or soon after birth that determine the child’s risk for developing asthma and allergy.