LONDON Peanut allergies are preceded by eczema in nine out of ten cases, according to the latest findings from the world's largest study examining how the interaction between genes and environment affects children's health.

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) celebrated its ten-year anniversary this month (June 2001) with a conference at the Royal Society in London. ALSPAC was set up in 1991 to try to unravel the way in which physical and social environments interact over time with genetic inheritance to affect a child's health, behaviour and development. The study hopes to uncover the underlying causes of a number of common conditions such as asthma, food and other allergies, autism, hyperactivity, dyslexia, anxieties and phobias, obesity, depression, deafness, eczema, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy.

The study, also known as Children of the Nineties, initially recruited 14,000 women during pregnancy. Around 12,000 families are still being...

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