The ultimate aim of the project is to strengthen the basis for effective prevention of allergy in children, which has reached epidemic proportions in Europe and elsewhere in recent decades. It focuses on farming and anthroposophic children, two groups with a low prevalence of atopic diseases and sensitisation, but for which specific protective factors have not yet been identified. Specific objectives include assessment of the role of certain environmental and life style factors for the development of allergy in children, such as diet, vaccinations, infections and animal contact. In addition, the influence by indoor microbial contaminants and the intestinal microflora is studied. It should be emphasied that farming and anthroposophic children are focused for reasons of efficiency to obtain suitable distributions of exposure and that identification of important protective determinants of atopy has relevance for the general population.
Initially, this project will identify children in farming and anthroposophic families in five European countries: Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. A total of around 6,000 children aged 6 to 12 years are investigated according to a common protocol among farmers, families with an anthroposophic life style and controls. A questionnaire survey is carried out among the children to assess certain exposures, such as diet, animal contact, and history of infections and vaccinations, as well as atopic manifestations.
The methodology will largely be based on internationally validated instruments and techniques.
In addition, validations will be performed within the project of bronchial hyperreactivity and dietary history. Determinations are made in a central laboratory of biological contaminants in stables and other indoor environments, allergen specific IgE-levels in serum and intestinal microflora, respectively.
The overall analyses and evaluation is aimed at identification of environmental and life style factors explaining the lower rate of allergy in children of farmers and in anthroposophic communities as well as to indicate effective strategies for prevention.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts