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 Inselspital: Fewer CT scans needed after cerebral bleeding
20.03.2019 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Building blocks for new medications: the University of Graz is seeking a technology partner
19.03.2019 | Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

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: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Laser processing is a matter for the head – LZH at the Hannover Messe 2019

25.03.2019 | Trade Fair News

A Varied Menu

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

‘Time Machine’ heralds new era

25.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>