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For some unusual reason the first abstract (1) went through a re-write, as well as a link chnage in order to change the outcome

1.Abstract (original)


Does Measles in Childhood Reduce Risk of Asthma?

Source: Paunio M, Heinonen OP, Virtanen M, et al. Measles history and atopic diseases: a population-based cross-sectional study. JAMA. 2000;283:343–346.

A study from the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau suggested that children who had experienced measles were 33% less likely  to develop asthma than children who had been vaccinated against measles.2 The above study from Finland used comprehensive, nationwide computer records of measles and allergic diseases to evaluate  this hypothesis. The data included records of 547,910 children aged 14 months to 19 years gathered during a national immunization

1.Abstract (re-write)

Some direct evidence from West Africa7 endorses this theory. In Guinea-Bissau, a cohort of 395 children aged 6 years or younger was studied in 1978-1980 without surveying baseline information on atopic status. The cohort was followed up until 1994, when 262 children with reliable measles history were located alive, and the prick test with common allergens was performed. The survivors of measles had a prevalence of atopy about 50% lower than those who had not experienced the infection.

Original Reference #2 is Shaheen SO, Aaby P, Hall AJ.  et al.  Measles and atopy in Guinea-Bissau.  Lancet.1996;347:1792-1796.

2. Abstract

Measles infection and and two or more younger siblings seem to protect against asthma

Having measles before the age of 3 and two or more younger siblings seems to protect against asthma, finds a study in Thorax.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen investigated the association between the development of wheezing and atopy (allergic response) in adulthood among over 300 people, who, as children had been part of a health survey in 1964. They were followed up for over 30 years, during which time allergic responses and evidence of antibodies to hepatitis A, toxoplasmosis, and Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium implicated in ulcers and possibly heart disease, were tested for. Detailed questionnaires on asthmatic symptoms were also completed.

People with persistent cough and phlegm with wheeze were more likely to have antibodies to hepatitis A and Helicobacter pylori. But antibody positivity was no associated with either the development of wheeze or atopy as an adult. But having two or more younger siblings and measles before the age of 3 was significantly associated with a lower risk of asthma.

Previous research from the same team has indicated that other factors, such as diet, may be important. But exposure to bacteria and viruses in infancy and childhood might be important in protecting against asthma. And, say the authors, protection may be conferred by a particular type of infection that is capable of altering the immune response for years ahead. That infection might be the measles virus, they say.


Dr David Godden, Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.


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