Lead author Pamela Martin, a University of Melbourne doctoral student at the Murdoch Children Research Institute, analyzed survey data and skin prick testing data collected in the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study, which involved 1,400 participants. They were originally assessed about their allergies and childhood environment in 1968 at age 7 and were followed up in 2004, at age 44.
The study, published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, estimated that as much as 30 percent of current allergic asthma could be attributed to a history of childhood eczema and hay fever.
"In this study we see that childhood eczema, particularly when hay fever also occurs, is a very strong predictor of who will suffer from allergic asthma in adult life," Martin says in a statement. "The implications of this study are that prevention and rigorous treatment of childhood eczema and hay fever may prevent the persistence and development of asthma."