Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How The Tooth Fairy Could Help To Prevent Asthma

10.07.2003


Scientists investigating the rise in asthma among Britain’s children have turned to the tooth fairy to help them in their research.



Over the last six years staff at the Children of the 90s project based at the University of Bristol have collected almost 12 thousand milk teeth.

Instead of putting them under the pillow – the children were asked to donate the teeth to the study. Inside the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), real-life tooth fairy Kaija Turvey made sure that every tooth was rewarded with a badge.


Now scientists are using the fact that the children’s two top front teeth – which begin to develop while the babies are still in the womb – contain a detailed record of how well the baby was nourished with trace elements and minerals before birth ... and that could tell them why some children go on to develop wheezing and asthma.

Dr Seif Shaheen of King’s College London suspects that if a baby does not receive enough iron and selenium in the womb this may increase their risk of wheezing in early childhood and possibly asthma later on. If he is right – it could eventually lead to women taking supplements during pregnancy in order to prevent the development of wheezing and asthma in their offspring.

The National Asthma Campaign is funding Dr Shaheen and Dr John Appleton from the University of Liverpool Dental School to analyse the mineral content of the milk teeth of 250 children with asthma and 250 children without asthma.

Dr Appleton says the research project exploits an idea developed in the University of Liverpool going back 10 years. But it has never been used in this way before. “We had the idea that we could monitor an individual’s exposure to various things by examining the teeth – the trace elements become incorporated in hard tissue, particularly teeth.

“I’ve done a lot of work to monitor environmental pollution with animal teeth – but this will be the first time we’ve done this in relation to human disease.”


Dr Shaheen says that previous research on umbilical cord samples in the ALSPAC cohort had indicated a possible connection between the level of exposure to iron and selenium before birth and subsequent risk of wheezing… but until now it has been difficult to obtain a totally accurate record of such exposure.

“Milk teeth begin to develop before birth and the enamel takes up trace elements and minerals, thus capturing a permanent record of exposure. When milk teeth drop out the enamel can be analysed to look back in time and tell us about a baby’s actual level of exposure to trace elements and minerals before birth.

“A lot of chronic diseases have their origins before birth, in the womb. Clues are emerging to suggest that factors which influence the development of the lung and immune system of a baby in the womb are likely to play an important part in determining whether they subsequently suffer from wheezing and asthma as children.

“We have preliminary evidence to suggest that babies exposed to higher levels of selenium in utero have a lower risk of persistent wheezing in early childhood, and those exposed to higher levels of iron have a lower risk of later onset wheezing and eczema.

In the UK, intakes of selenium have been falling at the same time as asthma has been increasing. Selenium occurs naturally in fish, meat, cereals and dairy products – but the richest source is Brazil nuts.

Philippa Major, National Asthma Campaign’’s assistant director of research said:
"Asthma is the most common long term condition in the UK today.

“One of our most urgent research priorities is to address the primary prevention of asthma in children. We are excited and pleased to be funding this ground-breaking research which will help us to identify what causes asthma to develop in children."

Ruth Francis | alfa

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>