SEP 21, 2018 11:36 AM PDT

Intrauterine Protection from Allergy Season

WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Breehl

A recent study performed by La Trobe University provides insight into the effect of allergy season on pregnancy and shortly after birth. The research objective was to determine the role of increased grass pollen levels during peak seasons on levels of IgE, an immunoglobulin or immune protein, involved in allergic reactions and development. The findings, while not a cure for allergies, suggest some means of protection.

Allergies are characterized by the CDC “an overreaction of the immune system to substances that generally do not affect other individuals.” Allergens, the substances that cause allergic reactions, can appear in the form of pollen, animal dander and as specific proteins provided in our diets as well as many other sources. Allergic reactions can induce irritation, sneezing, coughing, itching or even more severely, a life-threatening reaction, anaphylactic shock.

Allergies do not discriminate on the difference of age. Anyone at any time can develop an allergy. The La Trobe University study focuses on the risk associated with the fetus during pregnancy and the newborn just after pregnancy.

The role of allergen concentrations in the environment mothers get exposed to during pregnancy has been yet unexplored. Researches took a close look at the blood of the umbilical cord from groups of babies in Australia, Denmark and Germany, searching for differences in the levels of IgE. It was found that those with birthdays during the grass pollen seasons are associated with increased concentrations of the immunoglobulins.

It was observed that across all study groups, cord blood contained higher amounts of IgE. Interestingly, however, with the grass pollen seasons in peak, the high pollen counts seemed to provide a protective factor.

Associate Professor Erabs commented that these pregnancies might contribute to a sensitization barrier, "We found these babies had lower IgE levels. This was a significant finding and indicates the possible development of a sensitization barrier. However, more research needs to be done, and currently, we are working on studies to identify the specific risk time periods of pollen exposure during pregnancy on asthma and allergies in children."

Erabs notes that this protection is not observed over the entire study population, but suggests instead that their work is helping to tell a part of the full allergy story. “It’s important to remember there are a number of factors that can determine who gets asthma or allergies,” remarked Erab.

Allergies in the United States are among the top 10 causes of chronic illness. The cost associated with allergies is estimated to be about $18 billion. The researchers view this work instrumental in the understanding of the mechanisms of initial environmental exposures in utero and after birth.

Sources: Science Direct, MedExpress, CDC

About the Author
You May Also Like
SEP 07, 2020
Immunology
CRISPR Pumps the Brakes on the Immune System to Support Gene Therapies
SEP 07, 2020
CRISPR Pumps the Brakes on the Immune System to Support Gene Therapies
The ability to edit the human genome using CRISPR has been heralded as a revolution in medicine. However, one of the big ...
SEP 21, 2020
Immunology
The Perfect Storm: Wildfires, Flu and COVID-19
SEP 21, 2020
The Perfect Storm: Wildfires, Flu and COVID-19
Over 85 massive wildfires have swept through the West Coast, devastating communities in Washington, Oregon, and Californ ...
OCT 01, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
HPV Vaccine Protects Against Cervical Cancer, Large Study Finds
OCT 01, 2020
HPV Vaccine Protects Against Cervical Cancer, Large Study Finds
It has been known for some time that the HPV vaccine protects against human papillomavirus infection, genital warts, and ...
NOV 09, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
COVID-19 Vaccine by Pfizer More than 90% Effective
NOV 09, 2020
COVID-19 Vaccine by Pfizer More than 90% Effective
A preliminary analysis of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine shows that it can prevent over 90% of people from c ...
NOV 16, 2020
Immunology
Australian COVID-19 vaccine is promising and could be released next year
NOV 16, 2020
Australian COVID-19 vaccine is promising and could be released next year
Pharmaceutical companies worldwide are racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that will hopefully end this pandemic and he ...
NOV 17, 2020
Immunology
6 Injections a Year Prevent HIV Infections
NOV 17, 2020
6 Injections a Year Prevent HIV Infections
Last year, around 1.7 million people became infected with HIV, with around half of these being women. Encouraging result ...
Loading Comments...