Study Confirms Link Between Environmental Exposure and Allergy

By Thaddeus Schug
May 2010
David Bernstein, M.D., center, and Christopher Codispoti, M.D., right
Co-authors David Bernstein, M.D., center, and Christopher Codispoti, M.D., right, examine a patient as part of the CCAAPS cohort. (Photo courtesy of UC)

New findings by NIEHS-funded researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) indicate that environmental exposures and prolonged breast-feeding are critical determinants of childhood allergic rhinitis.

Conducted by an interdisciplinary team of investigators that includes first author Christopher Codispoti, M.D., and senior author David Bernstein M.D., the study( Exit NIEHS was published online by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI). The research is featured as one of April’s JACI Clinical Highlights( Exit NIEHS. Grace LeMasters, Ph.D.( Exit NIEHS, is the principal investigator and a National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council member.

A widespread and costly health issue
Grace K. LeMasters, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator and NIEHS grantee Grace K. LeMasters, Ph.D., oversees the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) at UC. (Photo courtesy of UC)

According to the authors, allergic rhinitis (AR) affects 40 percent of children and is associated with $11 billion in direct costs. The prevalence of AR begins to increase at age three, and identifying early predictors of AR allows implementation of cost-effective prevention strategies. While the environmental factors associated with the development of AR are not well understood, children living near high traffic areas experience higher symptoms of the disease.

To identify important predictors in infancy of AR, the group examined the relationship of multiple exposures on AR at age 3. Parents of high-risk infants enrolled in the NIEHS-funded Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), were interviewed regarding the infant’s medical, nutritional, and social history. The CCAAPS included 762 infants sampled from 2001 to 2003.

The study consisted of comprehensive physical examination and skin prick testing to 15 aeroallergens, and testing for cow’s milk and egg were performed at ages one, two, and three. House dust from the infant’s primary activity room was collected and assayed for endotoxin, beta-D-glucan, and Fel d 1.

The results indicate that prolonged breastfeeding in African-American infants was protective of AR at age 3. Having multiple children in the home during infancy was also protective. Infant food sensitivity was predictive of AR, as was tree pollen sensitivity. House dust endotoxin was associated with AR, with the effect being dependent on the concentration of exposure.

The researchers concluded that bottle-fed African-American infants and infants with food sensitivities are at increased risk for AR. This study brings together infant, environmental and host characteristics in predicting early childhood AR.

NIEHS funding supports translational research

Codispoti is a clinical fellow in allergy and immunology, a Center for Environmental Genetics New Investigator Scholar, and a doctoral candidate in the Molecular Epidemiology and Children’s Environmental Health Center’s NIEHS-sponsored T32 program at UC. The T32 program supports the professional development of medical doctors, giving them the opportunity to learn molecular and epidemiological techniques that will result in translational research.

Citation: Codispoti CD, Levin L, LeMasters GK, Ryan P, Reponen T, Villareal M, et al.( Exit NIEHS 2010. Breast-feeding, aeroallergen sensitization, and environmental exposures during infancy are determinants of childhood allergic rhinitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol Apr 13. [Epub ahead of print]

(Thaddeus Schug, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction.)

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.