Preterm Birth Protects Against Allergic Rhinitis in Later Life
In a study published in the March 2011 issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Crump and coworkers found that preterm birth protects against allergic rhinitis in young adulthood. Young adults who were born extremely preterm (gestational age 23-28 weeks) were 30% less likely to be prescribed nasal corticosteroids, and 55% less likely to be prescribed both nasal corticosteroids and oral antihistamines, compared to those who were born full-term. These findings were independent of fetal growth and did not appear to be explained by other confounding factors.
This study is unique because it is the largest to date of perinatal influences on allergic rhinitis in later life. It was able to examine these relationships in a national cohort of 630,000 young Swedish adults, using medication data from all outpatient and inpatient pharmacies throughout Sweden.
These findings underscore the importance of early life factors in the development of allergy in later life. Preterm birth affects 10% of all births worldwide and is linked to many adverse outcomes including cardiovascular and neurologic disease. However, this study shows that it protects against allergic rhinitis, possibly due to a protective effect of earlier exposure to pathogens in infants who are born preterm.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is the official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.