Preterm birth protects from atopy in adult life
In a study published in the February 2011 issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Siltanen and coworkers show that young adults born preterm at very low birth weight, below 1500 g, have lower rates of atopic allergy than their peers born at term. They found the more immature one is born, the lower is the risk of atopy.
One of 10 children worldwide is born preterm. We know that preterm birth affects the development of the immune system, but previous results as to atopy have been inconclusive. What makes this study unique is that the authors focused on an extreme group of preterm births (approximately 1 to 1.5 percent of newborns weigh less than 1500 g) and included a well-characterized comparison group born at term. The finding is clear: that the reduced rates of atopy are present over twenty years after birth and are not explained by confounding factors.
The study underlines the importance of very early life in the development of atopic disease. Moreover, as severely preterm birth has many disadvantages in later life, including learning deficits and increased risk factors of cardiovascular disease, it is important to note that not all outcomes are unfavorable.
10-0455, Preterm birth reduces incidence of atopy in adulthood
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.