Major diseases including certain types of cancer have proven to be more prevalent in either males or females; however, health care professionals have been unable to determine a direct cause for gender differences in disease risk or immune response. Research presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) revealed that adult women are at a higher risk of developing allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases compared to adult men.

"The importance of sex differences in the practice of allergy-immunology cannot be overstated," said allergist and ACAAI Fellow Dr. Renata Engler. "Improved sex/gender based medicine and research practices will benefit men and women alike."

Dr. Engler and her colleagues identified immunoglobin levels that were higher in asthmatic men, despite that fact that IgG immune responses to vaccines are heightened in women. Findings prove that young boys and older woman are more prone to allergies and asthma compared to any other gender or age group.

"More prepubescent males have rhinitis, asthma and food allergy than females," Dr. Engler added. "However, roles change. When females enter young adulthood, they outnumber men in these chronic illness categories."

A similar study that was also conducted by a research team from the ACAAI tracked women’s chances of being hospitalized due to asthma-related complications as they enter menopause. Results indicated that women in their 40s and 50s were more likely to be hospitalized over the condition compared to their male counterparts.

"Until puberty, boys have higher rates of asthma than girls," Dr. Robert Yao-wen Lin from the ACAAI explained. "Then, during the menopausal years, women's hospitalization rates are double those of men in the same age group. This could indicate that asthma may have distinct biological traits."

Seeing as allergy and asthma symptoms differ from person to person, Dr. Engler stresses the importance of personalized health care. The research team suggests that anyone who feels they may be experiencing any allergy- or asthma-related symptoms seek the advice of an allergist immediately. Avoiding triggers for these symptoms rests solely on isolating the cause and developing a specialized health care plan.