Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.Nov 10 2020
Mothers can pass on allergies to offspring while they are developing in the womb and that is one reason why babies exhibit allergies early in life, according to a Singapore preclinical study.
Findings from the research published 30 October in Science show that the key antibody, immunoglobulin E (IgE), responsible for triggering allergic reactions, can enter the fetus from the mother's body through the placenta. Once inside the fetus, it binds with fetal mast cells which are immune cells responsible for causing allergic reactions, such as runny noses and asthma.
Globally, 1030 per cent of the population is affected by allergies and this number continues to increase. The sensitization rates for allergies in school children are close to 4050 per cent, according to the World Allergy Organization White Book on Allergy 2013 update.
This is a previously unappreciated way that the mother's immune system can influence the offspring during development and after birth and it could possibly explain why some offspring develop an immune response the very first time they encounter an allergen, even when they have never been exposed before."
Ashley St. John, study co-author and immunologist at Duke-NUS Medical School
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