Significant percentage of asthma cases can be linked to allergies

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 22, 2007

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Slightly more than half of asthma cases are caused by various allergens, with cats being the main culprit, says a study published online Sept. 24 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

National Institutes of Health researchers skin-tested 10,508 participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and asked them if they had been diagnosed with asthma. Slightly more than 5% were asthmatic, and 56% of those asthma cases were attributed to allergens.

Some 54% of the general population had a positive skin test. Just over 5% were asthmatic, and nearly 80% of this group tested positive to at least one allergen.

Cat allergy accounted for slightly more than 29% of asthma cases. Dust mite and ragweed each caused more than 10%.

The authors suggest that preventing allergies might be a way to reduce the asthma risk in the population.

"Given the complexity of the disease, it won't be easy, but if we can prevent, block or reverse atopy, we could reduce a large proportion of asthma cases," said Darryl C. Zeldin, MD, one of the paper's authors and a senior investigator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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