Predictors and consequences of allergies that impact on children getting a healthy start to life

Project Details

We are investigating genetic, environmental and biological risk factors for allergies, asthma and lung function from birth to late adolecence. Key papers include:

Project summary

Allergic diseases prevent Australian children getting a healthy start to life by causing long term illnesses.  This group of diseases includes asthma, hay fever, eczema and food allergies.  Half of all Australian children are born into families with a history of these conditions, and these children are at increased risk. Some of these children develop allergies while the others do not. It is also known that allergic conditions change over time, but we have no information on causes of these changes. For example some infants with eczema continue to have eczema or develop hay fever and asthma, while others do not. The aim of this study is to determine what factors cause allergies and what factors influence these changes. Looking at the different conditions in family members over time is a good way to answer these types of questions, because parents and siblings share similar exposures, but not all the same genes.  This helps to disentangle the effects of the environment and genes. We are investigating the above questions by following-up index children and nuclear family members of the Melbourne Atopic Study (MACS), a longitudinal study of high risk children. While the follow-up is still ongoing the initial publications have already provided evidence to guide health policy and clinical practice.


Professor Shyamali Dharmage

Associate Professor Lyle Gurrin

Professor John Hopper

Dr Adrian Lowe

Dr Caroline Lodge

Dr Jennifer Perret

Dr Melissa Russell

Professor Michael Abramson (Monash University)

Professor Katie Allen (Murdoch Children's Research Institute)

Dr Chris Barton (University of Adelaide)

Dr Sharon Goldfeld (Murdoch Children's Research Institute)

Dr Melanie Matheson (Telstra Health)

Professor Paul Thomas (University of New South Wales)


National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Strategic Program Grant & NHMRC Project Grants

This is part of the Melbourne Atopic Cohort Study

Research Publications

Lowe et al. Effect of a partially hydrolyzed whey infant formula at weaning on risk of allergic disease in high-risk children.J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Aug;128(2):360-365.e4

Lodge et al. Childhood wheeze phenotypes show less than expected growth in FEV1 across adolescence. Am J Repir Crit Care Med (In Press)116.

Lodge C J, et al. Wheeze phenotypes show distinct early-life risk factors in a high-risk birth cohort. J Pediatrics 2013 Nov 14.oi:pii: S0022-3476(13)01227-4. 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.09.056.75.

Lowe et al.  Paracetamol use in early life and asthma: a prospective birth cohort study. BMJ 2010 Sep 15;341:c4616. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c4616  (IF:13.66)

Research Group

Allergy and Lung Health

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (including cancer), and promotion of mental health

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics

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