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WAO Medical Book Review

Prevention of Allergy and Allergic Asthma. World Allergy Organization Project Report and Guidelines. Edited by S.G.O. Johansson and Tari Haahtela.

Available from: Karger Publishing

Reviewed by Ronald S. Walls, MD PhD, University of Sydney, Concord Hospital, Concord, NSW. Australia.

The rise and rise of respiratory allergic diseases over the past 25 years remains a puzzle, yet we know that the seeds of allergy are planted in the early years of life. If we are to make any impact on the prevalence of these important diseases, we must look to their prevention in the first few years of life.

This volume draws together in an authoritative statement the outcome of a joint project between the World Allergy Organization (WAO) and the WHO. The contributors are drawn from all regions of the world and are the foremost and highly regarded authorities in their areas. Their contributions are a delight. They are comprehensive, evidence-based, and presented in a thoughtful and focussed manner.

The first few sections make up the bulk of the book. They deal with the genetics of atopic diseases and asthma, environmental influences, and immunological factors in early life that shape the development of allergic diseases and indicate some potential interventions. The remainder of the book discusses practical applications of prevention. There are sections on prediction and early diagnosis, primary and secondary prevention, and occupational allergy. Approaches to public education in asthma and allergy and the health economics of these diseases, is discussed. As yet there are no data on the impact of these interventions, yet the studies provide valuable models that will lead to effective utilization of scarce resources. There are useful appendices covering patient information sheets on allergen avoidance strategies, and content suggestions for educational programs.

In summary, this is an important book, well written and presented in an accessible form. It is an excellent reference, not only for any health professionals, whether specialist or general and in whatever capacity they may be involved in allergic diseases, but also for patients and those interested in understanding the impact of these diseases on health economics.