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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 05:43 GMT
Allergic to modern life
Asthma and allergies
One in three Britons suffers from a serious allegy, like asthma
If you suffer from an hayfever, asthma or any other kind of allergy then you'll know how distressing it can be, and in some cases can even be life-threatening.

But what causes us to be allergic is to be the study of a Europe wide study, as experts try to stop the numbers growing.

A new project - The Global Allergy and Asthma European Network has received several million pounds in funding to look at the problem.

It is set to examine factors including diet, environment, and pollution and will also look at whether genetics determines who suffers from the effects of allergies.

  • Breakfast's Jules Botfield met Julia Sheppard, whose severe walnut allergy has affected her life

  • We also spoke to Professor Peter Burney, who'll be taking part in the study of allergies across Europe.

  • We heard from Professor Jonathan Brostoff from King's College, London

  • And we spoke to our resident GP, Dr Rosemary Leonard.

  • You can find recordings of all these items by clicking on the icons on the right hand side.

    Rates of eczema and asthma have doubled in the UK in the past 20 years alone, and there has been a significant rise in nut allergies with around one third of children and young people thought to be affected.

    The project which is launched today will run for five years and is being funded by the European Union. It will receive 14.4m euros - approx 9.8m.

    It will be helped by Professor Burney who heads the public health department at King's College.

    Speaking ahead of today's launch he said: "Networks of excellence are a huge advantage, particularly in the epidemiology of such diseases as allergy and asthma.

    "Studying these diseases across Europe gives us an incredible range of resources, and can also spread the large load, both the work to be done and the costs involved."

    Allergic reactions
    Julia Sheppard's severe allergy to walnuts landed her in hospital

    Allergies: why Britain suffers more than most
    Breakfast spoke to Professor Peter Burney

    We talked to Jonathan Brostoff a professor of allergies from King's College in London.

    Breakfast's regular GP Dr Rosemary Leonard says it's a growing problem

    BBC Breakfast



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