Child's risk of developing allergic disease doubles if parent of same sex suffers from it

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UPDATED:

23:01 GMT, 9 August 2012

Allergies such as asthma and eczema are gender-related and not simply hereditary, new research has claimed.

Professor Hasan Arshad, a consultant in allergy and immunology at Southampton General Hospital, who carried out the study, said: ‘We have known for decades that allergy runs in the family and many thought that maternal effect was greater than paternal effect due to a mothers’ closeness to her child.

'But we have discovered the inheritance is from mother to daughter and father to son.'

Children are more likely to develop allergies such as eczema and asthma if they have a same-sex parent with it

Children are more likely to develop allergies such as eczema and asthma if they have a same-sex parent with it

Professor Hasan Arshad did the research

Professor Hasan Arshad did the research

His team assessed 1,456 patients from
birth 23 years ago and found the risk of asthma in boys was only
increased if their fathers suffered from the condition while, if mothers
had asthma, it doubled the risk in their daughters but not sons.

The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and funded by the National Institute of Health in the US, also showed maternal eczema led to a 50% increased risk of eczema in girls, while paternal eczema did the same for boys.

Professor Arshad said: 'In the past, studies looking at the effect of parental allergy on children have not split their samples according to the sex of the child, having assumed the mother and father influence is identical in males and females.

'Now, with these groundbreaking findings, we should see a change in the way we assess a child’s risk of disease, asking girls for the allergy history of their mother and boys for that of their father.

He added: 'This work also opens up novel areas for further research in the genetics of allergy as to why this sex dependent effect occurs and, if we can find the reason, we can try to find a way of preventing sex-specific disease.'