Asia Pac Allergy 2012 Apr 23;2(2):144-8. Epub 2012 Apr 23.
Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117597, Singapore.
Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) is Singapore's largest birth cohort study to date. The main aim of GUSTO is to evaluate the role of developmental factors in the early pathways to metabolic compromise. Detailed data is collected for a range of environmental exposures in the parents and offspring, and allergic disorders are among a number of outcomes assessed in infancy and childhood. Under the Allergy domain of GUSTO, this integrated study will describe the epidemiology of allergic manifestations and different phenotypes in the Asian context and help shed light on the association of metabolic disease to allergy. Epigenetic mechanisms and associations with other childhood disorders will also be explored. The aim of this report is to focus on methodology of GUSTO, and to suggest similar approaches (i.e., integrated cohort studies on pediatric allergy) worldwide. Recruitment commenced in 2009 with a cohort of 1,163 pregnant mothers in their first trimester. The mothers and children were followed throughout pregnancy and follow-up will continue until the child reaches 3 years of age. Preliminary results showed that 39.8% of the mothers had a personal history of having at least one allergic disease, which included asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis. Further data collection and analyses are still ongoing. Allergy is a complex spectrum of disorders with numerous poorly-understood aspects. The ongoing GUSTO cohort study, with its longitudinal design and multi-disciplinary nature, may provide new insights into developmental influences on allergy. As a Singapore-based study, it will be the first integrated allergy cohort in Southeast Asia, of which recruitment started during pregnancy.