What is it about?

The aim of this study was to test whether prediction of childhood asthma by genetic determinants varies with the environmental setting, particularly the farm exposure. Asthma is known to occur partly due to a genetic predisposition and partly due to environmental exposures. However, it is also established that some environments protect against the occurence of asthma, such a exposure to farming environments (https://link.growkudos.com/1b2ppqfmm0w).

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Why is it important?

Improving genetic prediction of asthma can help to identify subjects at risk early in life so that preventive measures can be taken. The strong evidence for interaction between genetic predisposition and environmental exposure in asthma development necessitates environment-specific genetic prediction models. This study defines genetic prediction specific to very distinct environmental exposures in childhood, farming and non-farming environments, which are already established at birth and unlikely to change substantially throughout early childhood.

Perspectives

Exposure to farming environments is one of the strongest and most replicated protective factors against asthma development. Some argue for an underlying environmental effect while others suggest this oservation may be due to self-selection out of farming in genetically predisposed subjects. If the latter were true, the improvement of genetic prediction of asthma focusing on children growing up on a farm is unlikely. Rather, the findings of this study suggest that asthma development under homogenous exposure to protective farming environments is mainly driven by genetic factors. These findings are a showcase for the idea that definition of subpopulations with a specific envrionmental exposure which is easy to ascertain and sustained over an extensive period can aid in genetic prediction of complex diseases.

PD Dr. med. Jon Genuneit
Universitat Leipzig

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This page is a summary of: Asthma in farm children is more determined by genetic polymorphisms and in non‐farm children by environmental factors, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, September 2020, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/pai.13385.
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