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Curr Opin Immunol. 1997 Dec;9(6):788-92.

Mechanisms of enhanced prevalence of asthma and atopy in developed countries.

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  • 1Lung Research Laboratory, Osler Chest Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK.


Atopy--a T helper 2 cell driven hypersensitivity to innocuous antigens (allergens) which causes most cases of asthma-- is of complex genetic and environmental origins. There is compelling epidemiological evidence for a rise in atopic disease in 'westernised' communities. The changing pattern of microbial exposure in early childhood is suggested to be the principal candidate mechanism for this rise.

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