Childhood asthma 'increases risk of shingles in later life'

5 January 2016

People who experience asthma during childhood may be at a greater risk of developing herpes zoster, also known as shingles, in later life.

The Mayo Clinic, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, studied the medical records of patients from Minnesota, with 371 cases of shingles identified during the study period and compared against 742 control subjects.

It was shown that 23 per cent of those with shingles had experienced childhood asthma, compared with 15 per cent of those in the the control group. It was indicated that adults with asthma were at about a 70 per cent greater risk of developing shingles.

Both asthma and atopic dermatitis were found to be independently associated with a higher risk of shingles. It was theorised that because asthma helps suppress adaptive immunity, it may increase the risk of varicella zoster virus reactivation.

Study leader Dr Young Juhn, a general academic paediatrician and asthma epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic Children's Research Center, said: "As asthma is an unrecognised risk factor for zoster in adults, consideration should be given to immunizing adults aged 50 years and older with asthma or atopic dermatitis as a target group for zoster vaccination."

Posted by Edward Bartel


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