A simple blood test can now predict whether newborn babies are at high risk of developing allergies as they grow older.
According to researchers at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, a protein in the immune cells of newborns appears to determine whether a baby will either be protected, or susceptible, to the development of allergies in childhood and beyond. Levels of the cell-signaling protein, known as protein kinase C zeta, are much lower in children at risk of developing allergies.
The researchers believe that the new blood test is far more effective than previously used indicators, such as a child’s family history of allergies, or measuring levels of the allergy-inducing antibody IgE in a child’s bloodstream.
The scientists are also studying the effects of fish oil supplementation in pregnant women in terms of reducing the risk of allergies in their offspring. Preliminary evidence suggests that in children born to women taking fish oil supplements, levels of the protective protein kinase C zeta are higher than in those born to women not taking fish oil supplements.
In children, allergic disorders may manifest as food allergies, eczema, asthma, and hay fever. These conditions often persist throughout life, and can significantly impair the health and happiness of both children and adults.