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Thumb-sucking or nail-biting in childhood led to a reduction in atopic sensitisation but not asthma or hay fever

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Study design

Design: Prospective longitudinal population-based birth cohort study.

Study question

Do children who have oral habits (thumb-sucking or nail-biting) have a lower risk of developing atopic sensitisation, asthma and hay fever?

Setting: Dunedin, New Zealand, participants born in 1972–1973.

Cohorts: A birth cohort of 1037 participants was asked multiple questions at multiple time points. For this study, ‘oral habits’ (frequently sucked their finger/thumb or bit their nails) were assessed at 5, 7, 9 and 11 years.

Outcomes: 11 or 12 panel skin prick testing at age 13 and 32 years. Atopic sensitisation was defined as having ≥1 positive response to an allergen. Asthma was diagnosed …

Correspondence to Dr Fozia Roked, Birmingham Children's Hospital, Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham B4 6NH, UK; fozia.roked{at}

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  • Contributors FR drafted the abstract/summary of original paper being picketed. JN drafted the commentary.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.