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Folic Acid may ease asthma

May 15, 2009

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center report for the first time a link between blood levels of Folic Acid and a decrease in the risk of developing asthma and higher levels of folate may reduce the risk of having asthma by 16% suggests new research from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “Our findings are a clear indication that folic acid may indeed help regulate immune response to allergens, and may reduce allergy and asthma symptoms,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Matsui.

The researchers reviewed the medical records of over 8,000 people aged between 2 and 85. Data was collected on blood levels of folate and respiratory and allergic symptoms, as well as on levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), the predominant antibody associated with an allergic response. According to the findings of the study, higher folate levels were associated with lower levels of IgE antibodies, as well as fewer reported allergies, less wheezing and lower likelihood of asthma. Specifically, the lowest average folate levels, defined as less than 8 ng/mL were associated with a 40% increase in the risk of wheezing, compared to the highest folate levels, defined as more than 18 ng/ml.

Moreover, the lowest folate levels were linked to a 30% higher risk of elevated IgE antibody levels, compared to the highest folate levels.
The researchers also report that people with the lowest folate levels had a 31% higher risk of allergic symptoms, and a 16% higher risk of having asthma, compared to those with the highest folate levels. The area of study is ongoing, confirmed the researchers, with the plan to conduct a placebo-controlled trial of folic acid placebo in people with allergies and asthma. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The findings are published online ahead of print in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.