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 Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center

nachricht Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma
17.01.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

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: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>