The prevalence of asthma and related allergic disorders has increased considerably over the last several decades. Since the genetic makeup of humans has not changed during this time, it is likely that environmental factors may have influenced this rise in allergic diseases. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence to suggest that many aspects of health and disease are determined during the perinatal period and that alterations in lifestyle and diet later in life are secondary to the effects of the immunological programming that occurs during pregnancy and early infancy. This is directly applicable to allergic disease where immune responses at birth implicate intrauterine exposure as a primary sensitization event. Moreover, infants who experience allergy early in life already have an altered immune response at birth and most therapeutic approaches focus on altering the expression of the disease. Therefore, a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms that shapes the immune response towards allergy development is fundamental to strengthening "natural" protective stimuli or developing preventative rather than treatment therapies.
Keywords: perinatal, pregnancy, fetal, allergy, th cells, tolerance, probiotics, gut
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