Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study celebrates 18th birthday

Researchers and participants involved in a long-term study into asthma and allergies by The University of Manchester and the University Hospital of South Manchester marked its landmark birthday with a big party at the Wythenshawe-based hospital.

The Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study (MAAS), a research project run by The University of Manchester and the University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) was designed to investigate risk factors for the development of asthma and allergies and has tracked over a thousand babies from their birth to age 18 since it began in the mid-nineties.

Along the way, the researchers have made many important discoveries including: creating a blood test for peanut allergy showing children who were overweight at age three were more likely to have a wheeze and persistent eczema (up to 8 years) showing that showing that children who receive antibiotics before their first birthday are at slightly increased risk of developing asthma, but are not at increased risk of allergies.
MAAS began in 1995 when investigators Professor Adnan Custovic and Professor Angela Simpson, from the Institute of Inflammation and Repair, in the University’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences (with support from Sr Bridget Simpson and Professor Ashley Woodcock) began screening pregnant women in the antenatal clinics of Wythenshawe (now UHSM) and Stepping Hill Hospitals.
Over 1000 families were recruited for the study from the local population and the team have been following the 1184 babies born throughout 1996 and 1997 ever since.
Over the years, the study participants and their parents have attended for a clinical assessment at UHSM at six key stages of their development, up to age 14.
As the children are now approaching their 18th birthdays, the MAAS study team invited them and their parents to a special open evening at UHSM to meet some of the behind the scenes team and learn more about how they have contributed to the study’s important findings and results.
The major strength of the MAAS study has been that by following the same children as they grow up, researchers can see how diseases develop longitudinally, and have collected information before symptoms start, which prevents ‘recall bias’.
The investigators can then compare factors in those with, and those without symptoms of asthma or allergic disease, to try to understand what may be important in causing these diseases. They have succeeded in publishing over 60 scientific papers from their findings.
The study is now funded by the Medical Research Council, and has previously been funded by Asthma UK.

Notes for editors

 For further information, please contact Alison Barbuti | Media Relations Officer | The University of Manchester | 0161 275 8383 | alison.barbuti@manchester.ac.uk