Allergic diseases have become a major health problem in industrialised societies, particularly in children and young adults. This may partly be explained by an increased awareness of such conditions, as general health has improved, and infections and malnutrition have become less threatening. But there also appears to be an increased prevalence of atopic diseases, and this is generally ascribed to environmental influences. As a consequence, there has been an increasing interest in the possibility of preventing allergy by various prophylactic measures. In this chapter, the value of such prophylactic measures will be discussed, with emphasis on the possibility of primary prevention, i.e. avoiding sensitisation in healthy infants and children. Secondary and tertiary prevention will only briefly be mentioned. Since available evidence indicates that environmental influences affect the rate of appearance of atopic diseases, mainly in those individuals who have a genetically determined propensity to develop allergy, it is also important to discuss how such risk individuals can be identified.
KeywordsAtopic Eczema Allergic Disease Allergy Clin Immunol House Dust Mite Atopic Disease
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