DENVER — Doctors are trying to figure out why some kids develop allergies and asthma, and if there is any way to prevent it.
National Jewish Health, along with researchers across the country, is running a study to follow moms and babies from pregnancy through the toddler years in hopes of answering those questions.
“The incidents of allergies have increased over the last couple of decades, and we really want to understand why,” said Dr. Jessica Hui, a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health. “So, the goal of this study is to be able to … develop models, find biomarkers, to be able to educate all of these new moms, pregnant women, families, as to what sorts of individuals will or will not develop allergies.”
The study is observational, so Hui said the researchers will ask a lot of questions and take a lot of samples, but will not inject participants or recommend certain products. During the years a participant is involved in the study, researchers will collect samples from participants' skin, hair, saliva, urine and stool. They will fill out occasional questionnaires and submit environmental information – things like dust in the home, water from the faucet, what kind of cleaning products the family uses, and what kind of food the baby ate recently.
“There are some statistics that about 50% of kids will develop eczema. Right now there are about two kids per classroom with a food allergy. If you think about – decades ago – that was not a concern we had,” Hui said.
“We know there’s some sort of genetic factor. There’s also an environmental factor going on. But in terms of how all that plays a role – that's why we’re doing Sunbeam."
National Jewish Health is still recruiting participants. The hospital is interested in families that speak English or Spanish, and participants will be compensated.
Brooke Tippin decided to enroll her 7-month-old daughter, Bowen who is the youngest of her three children and allergies run in the family.
“I actually have a history of allergies and asthma. Unfortunately, my oldest, who is three… is also going in that direction,” she said.
Her son, Lincoln, was hospitalized with asthma last year. Just last week, Bowen developed hives on her belly.
Tippin is a former pediatric nurse who also spent some of her career in research. She joined the study hoping to help find answers.
“I’ve seen many lives changed by research, many lives saved by research,” she said. “It felt fitting that I would give back some of our time and efforts to help other kiddos out.
“This study may not directly benefit [her children directly], but eventually, it will help some kids and maybe open the door to some research for new treatment options as well as prevention and maybe cures for allergies and asthma."
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Latest from 9NEWS