Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 5:48 EDT

Origins of Allergies at Fetal Stage

June 20, 2013

MILAN, June 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –

Allergies have become a challenge to global health. Experts from all parts of the
world meet to find answers at the World Allergy & Asthma Congress 2013 in Milan, June
22-26 EAACI and the World Allergy Organization (WAO) jointly host the World Allergy &
Asthma Congress 2013

        - New proof for pre-birth programming of food allergies
        - Environmental factors prior to birth influence susceptibility to food
        - Food allergies in first 12 months after birth "programmed" at fetal stage
        - Allergy risk programmed during critical periods of immune development
        - Immune development sensitive to environmental disruption
        - Proof that "Memory of the body" starts before birth
        - Major step forward in finding a vaccine against shellfish allergies

The number of people suffering from allergy or asthma is growing faster than ever
before. More than 30% of the world’s population is now being affected by allergies. Two
hundred and fifty million people are estimated to suffer from food allergies. In developed
countries like the United States, one in five people suffer from either allergy or asthma.
The strongest increase in allergies and asthma is seen in developing countries.

The sharpest increase in allergies is observed in children who primarily suffer from
food and respiratory allergies; and one of four school-age children in Europe live with
allergic disease.

Among the new findings on allergy and asthma presented at the World Allergy and Asthma
Congress 2013 [http://www.eaaci-wao2013.com ] in Milan from 22-26 June 2013 is new
Australian research by David Martino and team from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute,
Melbourne, providing proof for pre-birth programming of food allergies. This means food
allergies are not acquired after birth or at a later stage in life, but children are born
with allergies due to specific environmental factors during pregnancy.

In short, there is further scientific proof that allergies can originate at fetal
stage. Babies can be born with a tendency to develop food allergies due the living
conditions of their mothers, including nutrition during pregnancy. This was proven for
food allergies that occurred in infants in the first 12 months of life.

In scientific terms, a biochemical process called DNA methylation plays a central role
in normal prenatal immune development. The DNA methylation is sensitive to environmental
disruption. The Australian study provides evidence that disruption, or external
environmental influences during pregnancy, increases the risk for food allergy. Based on
this evidence the study concluded that food allergies are programmed before birth.

New findings will also be presented on shellfish allergy, one of the most common food
of allergies and a main cause of life-threatening allergic reactions to food. Research by
Heidi R. Myrset and team from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute in Oslo shows which parts
of the allergen actually trigger the allergic reaction to the shellfish. These results
could represent a breakthrough in finding a vaccine against shellfish allergy.

“Allergies and asthma are rising sharply. There is a clear correlation between
increasing wealth and standard of living and allergies and asthma. That is why we see the
strongest increase in emerging countries. Children suffer most from this trend. With the
new research presented at the World Allergy and Asthma Congress on the early origins of
allergies and biomarkers triggering asthma, we are confident to contribute to prevention
and better treatment of millions of people suffering from what has become a serious threat
to global health”, said Prof. Cezmi Akdis, President of the European Academy of Allergy
and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) and Congress President.

Professor Ruby Pawankar, President of the World Allergy Organization and also Congress
President, said, “With the increasing severity and complexity of allergic diseases as
societies become affluent and especially in children, the major need lies in finding out
at what stage allergies and asthma are acquired and how these diseases can be prevented.
This is especially so as an increasing number of people are already born with a
predisposition despite generally better living conditions. Global cooperation of experts
from all disciplines and various stakeholders including policy makers, health authorities,
patients and the public to address this major global public health issue is the need of
the hour, and the Congress will clearly address this issue and foster this cooperation.”

Professor Giorgio Walter Canonica, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee of the
Congress, said that “The growing impact of allergy burden worldwide is also a reality in
Italy. Both the prevalence and the cost of allergy are continuously growing. The Milan
Congress will offer a unique opportunity to learn about all the current and future
strategies to fight allergies and asthma. We are proud that Italy plays a key role in
driving research on food allergies, with Prof. Antonella Muraro from the Pediatrics
Department of the University of Padua being a leading expert and driver of international
cooperation. The Italian Allergy Societies (AAITO and SIAIC) are pleased to host and to
contribute to the success of the Congress.”

Over 8,000 delegates from more than 100 countries participating in the EAACI-WAO World
Allergy and Asthma Congress 2013 make it the leading medical congress on allergy and
immunology globally. The programme
[http://www.eaaci-wao2013.com/scientific+programme/5774/Page.aspx ] of 8 Plenary Symposia,
45 Symposia, 3 Satellite Symposia, 30 Meet the Expert Sessions, 25 Workshops and 34 Oral
Abstract Sessions is dedicated to communicating the most up-to-date information in the
field. A total of 2,145 abstracts have been received – the highest number ever in the
history of all allergy congresses.


The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) is a non-profit
organisation active in the field of allergic and immunologic diseases such as asthma,
rhinitis, eczema, occupational allergy, food and drug allergy and anaphylaxis. EAACI was
founded in 1956 in Florence and has become the largest medical association in Europe in
the field of allergy and clinical immunology. It includes over 7,800 members from 121
countries, as well as 42 National Allergy Societies.

About WAO

The World Allergy Organization (WAO) is an international alliance of 92 regional and
national allergy, asthma and clinical immunology societies. Through collaboration with the
Member Societies, WAO provides a wide range of educational and outreach programs,
symposia, and lectureships to allergists/immunologists around the globe and conducts
initiatives relating to clinical practice, service provision, and physician training in
order to better understand and address the challenges facing allergists/immunologists

        For more information, please contact:

        Macarena Guillamon
        EAACI Headquarters
        Genferstrasse, 21
        8002 Zurich - Switzerland
        Tel: +41-44-205-55-32
        Mobile: +41-79-892-82-25


        Tahira Chaudary
        WAO Secretariat
        555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100
        Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202 USA
        Tel: +1-414-276-1791


        Maria Diviney
        Shepard Fox Communications
        Tel: +33-98-220-3697
        Mobile: +33-66-620-6462


SOURCE European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI)

Source: PR Newswire