In a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of Melbourne researchers have demonstrated that teenagers at around the age of 12 are a higher risk of developing asthma if they have experienced wheezing and sensitivity to house dust mites as toddlers.
The risk of adult life asthma is higher in those children between the ages of one and two years with a family history of allergy who have demonstrated positive results to house dust mites during a skin prick test. In contrast to 36% children without a positive skin prick test, 75% of these children had asthma at the age of 12, according to results.
Dr Caroline Lodge, lead author from the University of Melbourne’s School of Population Health, said that trial inventions could be performed on high-risk groups because house dust mites have been identified as an interpreter for asthma in high-risk children.
She said, “Our findings provide researchers with a more targeted group of at risk children, for investigating strategies to prevent asthma later in life. House dust mite sensitivity amongst wheezy toddlers could be used as a clinical tool to assist parents in understanding the risk of asthma in their children. Although currently there is no known intervention to stop asthma developing, identifying children at higher risk may lead to more tailored treatments of wheeze in this high risk group.”
The study involved 620 children with a family history of allergies who were followed from birth to the age of 12 years. The children were tested for single and multiple sensitivity to milk, egg, peanut, rye grass, cat, and house hold dust mites at the age of one and two years, and then again for asthma at the age of 12 years.
Dr. Lodge said, “We found in the children aged one two years, that whatever the mix of sensitivity, if their skin reacted to house dust mites they had a higher chance of developing asthma later in life. Our study did not show house dust mite caused asthma but it highlighted a strong correlation between sensitivity and more severe wheeze and asthma. House dust mites are common in our environment. They are something we have to live with everyday. Previous studies have revealed that efforts to eradicate house dust mites have been ineffective.”
The study was conducted in collaboration with Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Monash University, and the Royal Children’s Hospital.