A huge amount of data has been recorded on the prevalence of asthma, eczema, rhinitis and food allergies. Findings have been presented at American Thoracic Society, British Thoracic Society, European Respiratory Society, and European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology meetings. A large number of publications have already resulted from the follow-up of this cohort.
Collaboration has been set up between The David Hide Centre, Michigan State University and The University of Memphis to investigate candidate genes thought to mediate allergic inflammation. A multidisciplinary research team with expertise in genetics, epidemiology, clinical medicine (allergy and immunology) and biostatistics put in a successful application to the American National Institute of Health (NIH) to follow-up the birth cohort at 18 years of age.
At 18 years, 90% (1,313) of the original cohort were contacted and, at the very least, completed a comprehensive questionnaire on asthma, allergies, family history, environmental and lifestyle factors. Those who were able to visit the Centre were also skin prick tested and provided a blood or saliva sample for DNA to study polymorphism in Leptin and Leptin receptor genes. Participants were recalled for bronchial challenge and a proportion were be invited to undergo sputum induction for characterisation of inflammatory cell types.
Significant changes in asthma characteristics during adolescence were identified and the factors that drive these changes are to be investigated.
A grant was awarded by the British Medical Association to use information gathered from questionnaires completed by the Birth cohort to identify those whose asthma persisted over the teenage years and also those teenagers who developed new onset asthma.
The research team at The David Hide Centre are in collaboration with a research group at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center who are carrying out genetic studies into asthma and cystic fibrosis. A genome-wide SNP scan in asthma was conducted in samples from the birth cohort, 178 from those with asthma and 534 controls. The findings from this research have been published in ‘Nature’.