Causes of asthma and allergy

Projects at the Unit of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM)

Fish intake and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in relation to allergic disease from childhood to early adulthood

Nutritional factors such as regular intake of oily fish during childhood have been hypothesized to reduce the risk of allergic disease, potentially due to the content of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The overall aim of the project is to investigate the role of fish intake and long-chain PUFAs in relation to allergic disease and lung function from childhood to early adulthood.

The research is conducted within a prospective birth cohort (BAMSE), where 4,089 children have been followed from infancy up to early adulthood (24 years). Extensive information on diet, including various fish types, have been collected through food frequency questionnaire at 8, 16 and 24 years. At 8 and 16 years, plasma levels of fatty acids have been analyzed among nearly 1000 participants in the study. Allergic outcomes are defined based on repeated questionnaires and lung function tests have been performed among a majority of the participants at 8, 16 and 24 years.

Allergic diseases are common, with a considerable incidence also beyond early childhood. While many studies have focused on prenatal and infancy exposures, the proposed project will contribute to the understanding of nutrition in childhood and adolescence for the development of lung function and allergic diseases up to early adulthood. The BAMSE-study offers a unique opportunity to study the role of diet for these outcomes longitudinally. Our findings can potentially contribute to strengthening and developing the dietary recommendations to the general population as well as to patients with allergic disease.

Financing

  • The Swedish Asthma and Allergy research foundation

Contact person

Sandra Ekström

Affiliated to research

  

Health Related Quality of Life in relation to food hypersensitivity

Food hypersensitivity (FHS) covers a large spectrum of food-related symptoms and occurs with and without concurrent Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to food(s). FHS is an increasing public health issue throughout the world and affects all age groups. FHS is common during childhood, with a noted increase in prevalence in recent decades. Among adolescents, the prevalence is estimated to 15-25 percent. Food-related symptoms can range from mild symptoms (i.e: from nose, eyes, stomach, skin) to life-threatening, when symptoms involve respiratory and/or cardiovascular distress. Lower Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) has been reported among children and adolescents with FHS, but little is know about how severity, IgE-sensitization or comorbidity of FHS have impact on HRQoL in adolescence. The aim of this project is to examine self-reported HRQoL in relation to phenotypes of FHS, and food-specific symptoms among adolescents. This project is conducted within the birth cohort BAMSE from the 16-year follow-up, where we have information about FHS and HRQoL.

Financing

  • The Swedish Asthma and Allergy research foundation

Contact person

Marina Jonsson

Affiliated to research

   

From fetal life to early adulthood: tobacco exposure, nutrition and health

Tobacco exposure and diet are important determinants of health. Still, we need to better understand how exposure in fetal life, childhood and adolescence influence health in adulthood. The proposed project will investigate the role of secondhand smoke exposure, cigarette smoking, snus consumption, diet and overweight for respiratory, allergic and cardiovascular outcomes during the first 24 years of life. The research is conducted within a prospective population-based cohort (BAMSE) where 4,089 males and females have been followed repeatedly from infancy. Extensive information on exposures and outcomes are available from questionnaires, clinical examinations and blood samples. The proposed project builds on and extends recent findings from my research group. The project will contribute to the understanding of how tobacco exposure, diet and obesity influence health outcomes in early adulthood, and possibly provide a basis for disease prevention efforts.

Financing

  • The Swedish Research Council
  • The Swedish Research Council for Health Working Life and Welfare
  • Region Stockholm (AFL)
  • KID-funding from Karolinska Institutet (KI)

Contact person

Publications

Ekström S, Magnusson J, Kull I, Lind T, Almqvist C, Melén E, Bergström A. Maternal BMI in early pregnancy and offspring asthma, rhinitis and eczema up to 16 years of age. Clin Exp Allergy. 2015 Jan;45(1):283-91.

Thacher J, Gruzieva O, Pershagen G, Neuman Å, Wickman M, Kull I, Melén E, Bergström A. Pre- and Postnatal Exposure to Parental Smoking and Allergic Disease through Adolescence. Pediatrics. 2014 Sep;134(3):428-34

Ekström S, Kull I, Nilsson S, Bergström A. Web-based self-reported height, weight, and body mass index among Swedish adolescents: a validation study. J Med Internet Res. 2015 Mar 18;17(3):e73. doi: 10.2196/jmir.3947.

Thacher J, Gruzieva O, Pershagen G, Neuman Å,  van Hage M, Wickman M, Kull I, Melén E, Bergström A. Parental smoking and development of allergic sensitization from birth to adolescence. Allergy. 2016 Feb;71(2):239-48.

Gref A, Rautiainen S, Gruziewa O, Håkansson N, Kull I, Pershage G, Wickman M, Wolk A, Melén E, Bergström A. Dietary total antioxidant capacity in early school age and subsequent allergic disease. Clin Exp Allergy. 2017 Jun;47(6):751-759. doi: 10.1111/cea.12911.

Ekström S, Magnusson J, Kull I, Andersson N, Bottai M, Besharat Pour M, Melén E, Bergström A. Body mass index development and asthma throughout childhood. Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Jul 15;186(2):255-263.

Magnusson J, Ekström S, Kull I, Håkansson N, Nilsson S, Wickman M, Melén E, Risérus U, Bergström A. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in plasma at 8 years and subsequent allergic disease. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 Aug;142(2):510-516.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.09.023.

Ekström S, Hallberg J, Kull I, Protjuder LP, Thunqvist P, Bottai M, Gustafsson PM, Bergström A. Melén E. Body mass index status and peripheral airway obstruction in school-age children: a population-based cohort study. Thorax. 2018 Jun;73(6):538-545. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2017-210716. Epub 2018 Jan 29.

Thacher JD, Gehring U, Gruziewa O, Standl M, Pershgen G, Bauer CB, Berdel D, KellerT, Koletzko S, Koppelman GH, Kull I, Laur S, Lehmann I, Maier D, Schikowski T, Wahn U, Wijga AH, Heinrich J, Bosuquet J, Anto JM, von Berg A, Melén E, Smit H, Keil T, Bergström A. Maternal smoking during pregnancy and early childhood and development of asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis – a MeDALL project. Environ Health Perspect. 2018 Apr 12;126(4):047005.

Feldman LY, Thacher JD, van Hage M, Kull I, Melén E, Pershagen G, Wickman M, To T, Protudjer JLP, Bergström A. Early life secondhand smoke exposure and food hypersensitivity through adolescence. Allergy. 2018 Jul;73(7):1558-1561.

Thacher JD, Schultz ES, Hallberg J, Hellberg U, Kull I, Thunqvist P, Pershagen G, Gustafsson G, Melén E, Bergström A. Tobacco smoke exposure in early life and adolescence in relation to lung function. Eur Respir J. 2018 Jun 7;51(6). pii: 1702111. doi: 10.1183/13993003.02111-2017.

Sdona E, Hallberg J, Andersson N, Ekström S, Rautiainen S, Håkansson N, Wolk A, Kull I, Melén E, Bergström A. Dietary antioxidant intake in school age and lung function development up to adolescence. Eur Respir J. 2020 Feb 20;55(2).

       

    Indoor environment and respiratory health – a longitudinal study from childhood to early adulthood

    The overall aim of the project is to investigate the influence of certain indoor environmental factors on respiratory health from childhood to early adulthood. In particular, we will investigate the role of early exposure to mould, dampness, and seccondhand tobacco smoke in asthma and lung function development from childhood to early adulthood. In addition, we will collect urine samples and investigate urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) metabolites in relation to asthma and lung function in young adulthood.

    This research is conducted within the Swedish prospective population-based birth cohort BAMSE where 4,089 children have been followed repeatedly from infancy to adolescence (age 16 years). Extensive information on exposures and phenotypes is available based on questionnaires, clinical examinations (including measurement of lung function), and blood samples. The planned project will make use of the already collected data, but also includes a new follow-up of the cohort participants at age 22-24 years.

    Although we spend the majority of the time indoors, there is limited information on how early exposure to indoor environmental factors (e.g. mould, dampness, and SHS) affects asthma and lung function into adulthood. Combining analyses of available epidemiological data with urine for biomarkers, the proposed studies will contribute to the understanding of how indoor environment influence respiratory health.

    Financing

    • The Swedish Research Council FORMAS
    • Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

    Contact person

      Publications

      Thacher J, Gruzieva O, Pershagen G, Melén E, Lorentzen J, Kull I, Bergström A. Mold and dampness exposure and allergic outcomes from birth to adolescence: data from the BAMSE cohort. Allergy. 2017 Jun;72(6):967-974.

      Thacher JD, Gehring U, Gruziewa O, Standl M, Pershgen G, Bauer CB, Berdel D, KellerT, Koletzko S, Koppelman GH, Kull I, Laur S, Lehmann I, Maier D, Schikowski T, Wahn U, Wijga AH, Heinrich J, Bosuquet J, Anto JM, von Berg A, Melén E, Smit H, Keil T, Bergström A. Maternal smoking during pregnancy and early childhood and development of asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis – a MeDALL project. Environ Health Perspect. 2018 Apr 12;126(4):047005.

      Thacher JD, Schultz ES, Hallberg J, Hellberg U, Kull I, Thunqvist P, Pershagen G, Gustafsson G, Melén E, Bergström A. Tobacco smoke exposure in early life and adolescence in relation to lung function. Eur Respir J. 2018 Jun 7;51(6). pii: 1702111.

           

        Can asthma and atopic dermatitis in childhood influence the risk of cardiometabolic conditions in early adulthood?

        Allergic diseases such as asthma, atopic dermatitis and rhinitis are the most common non-communicable diseases in childhood. Allergic diseases and their multimorbidity in childhood are often associated with further respiratory problems in adult life, such as lower lung function and higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition, increasing body of literature also suggest that allergic diseases may also influence the development of other non-communicable diseases, for example cardiovascular and metabolic conditions (e.g. obesity, high blood pressure and elevated blood lipids). However, prospective studies ranging from childhood to adulthood and with detailed phenotyping of allergic diseases is needed to better understand these potential associations. The objective of the proposed project is to examine if childhood asthma and atopic dermatitis influence the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic conditions detectable already in early adulthood. The project will be conducted within a prospective population-based cohort (BAMSE) where 4,089 males and females have been followed from infancy.

        In the short term, our research will contribute to new knowledge on how childhood asthma and atopic dermatitis may influence the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic conditions in early adulthood. In the long term, our results may have important implications for the treatment standards of children with asthma and atopic dermatitis and thereby contribute to the prevention of cardiometabolic conditions.

        Financing

        • The Swedish Asthma and Allergy research foundation

        Contact person

             

          COVID-19 in young adults; risk factors, immunity and long-term health consequences

          In this project, we perform a new COVOD-19 focused follow-up of participants in our longitudinal, population-based birth cohort BAMSE (n=4,089, born 1994-96) including repeated serology analyses of coronavirus immunity, risk factor assessment, elucidations of underlying genetic and immunological factor, and new assessment of lung function and cardiometabolic markers to evaluate long term pulmonary and cardiometabolic effects. In the BAMSE study, we have a unique opportunity to study both short-term and long-term health consequences of coronavirus infection, thanks to our rich, longitudinal database and biobank, to evaluate key risk factors and health consequences of coronavirus infection.

          Financing

          • IMM seed funding

          Contact person