Causes of asthma and allergy in children

During almost two decades research in our unit has focused on elucidation of risk factors for development of allergic diseases in children. The findings have often been of great public health relevance and implemented in national and international guidelines for primary prevention of allergic diseases in children. These include effects of smoking during pregnancy, early nutrition (including breastfeeding), pet keeping, indoor air quality and outdoor pollution. Furthermore, we have identified protective factors for asthma and allergy among children brought up on a farm or with an anthroposophic life style. On a molecular level we have assessed mechanisms for IgE sensitization and their impact on disease development. In recent publications we have focused on allergen molecules (protein components) aiming at improving allergy diagnostics.


A large part of the studies are based on the birth cohort BAMSE including more than 4 000 children born in Stockholm between 1994 and 1996. The participation rate is uniquely high, 78 percent at the latest follow-up at 16 years of age. Extensive work with repeated follow-up investigations of the cohort implies that our group has gained substantial knowledge and experience in maintenance of the database. At the 16 year follow-up a special facility was set up for advanced lung function measurements, also covering the small airways, collection of inflammatory markers from the upper airways, testing for contact dermatitis, sampling of blood for genetic and epigenetic studies as well as serological studies of molecular allergology.

Another major project led by our unit is PARSIFAL, including children from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. The main purpose is to investigate protective factors for allergy development in children raised on a farm or with an anthroposophic life style. Close to 15000 children aged 5 to 13 years with questionnaire data were included and blood samples are available for more than 4000.


Charité, Berlin and Helmholtz Center Munich, University of Utrecht, King's College and Imperial College London, Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York, Harvard Medical School Boston and University of British Columbia Vancouver.


  • European Union
  • The Swedish Research Council
  • Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association
  • Swedish Foundation for Health Care Sciences and Allergy Research
  • The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
  • The Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research
  • The Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation
  • The Swedish Research Council Formas
  • The Stockholm County Council



Anna Bergström

Telefon: 08-524 874 56
Enhet: Miljömedicinsk epidemiologi


Erik Melén

Telefon: 08-524 875 08
Enhet: Miljömedicinsk epidemiologi

Professor, senior

Magnus Wickman

Telefon: 08-524 868 88
Enhet: Miljömedicinsk epidemiologi