Now, picture a world where the air we inhale and the environments we inhabit have a subtle impact on our health, especially in children for whom asthma and allergies pose intricate challenges. In India, a country rich in diversity but facing a high incidence of these health issues, the relationship between our genes and the environment is crucial. Asthma and allergic rhinitis are not just simple health problems but complex issues involving genetic and environmental factors, with vitamin D playing a key role in our body’s immune response, affecting our health balance. With many Indian children lacking sufficient vitamin D, which could affect the prevalence of these conditions, delving into genetics uncovers variations in the vitamin D receptor gene and others that provide new insights into our susceptibility to asthma and allergies. This investigation goes beyond science to understand how our genetic makeup interacts with vitamin D, potentially leading to personalized treatments in the sunny yet vitamin D-deficient areas of South India.

In their groundbreaking work, Dr. Narmada Ashok and Dr. Radha Saraswathy embarked on a journey to discover how genetic variations related to vitamin D are linked to asthma and allergies in children from South India. They carefully selected a group of children, some with these conditions and others without, to compare and deepen our understanding of the genetic roots of these health issues. Their method was detailed and systematic, using advanced genetic analysis to identify and examine specific gene variations related to Vitamin D, showcasing the complex interaction between our genes and environmental factors in health and disease.

Dr. Ashok emphasized their detailed approach, highlighting the team effort: “We thoroughly analyzed the genetic data to find links between different gene variations and the occurrence of asthma and allergies.” This study not only revealed the genetic factors behind these conditions but also how these genetic differences might influence Vitamin D processing and the body’s defense mechanisms in those affected.

Dr. Saraswathy noted the significant impact of their findings, saying, “Understanding these genetic complexities opens new paths for creating targeted and effective treatments.” The dedication and thorough research of the team mark a significant move towards personalized medicine, where treatments can be customized to a patient’s unique genetic profile, offering better health outcomes for children facing these difficult conditions.

Building on their findings, the research team also explored potential lifestyle and dietary changes that could lower the risk of developing these conditions. They suggest that knowing the genetic tendencies towards Vitamin D metabolism could lead to more specific advice on sunlight exposure and eating Vitamin D-rich foods, possibly reducing the occurrence of asthma and allergic reactions in those at risk. This comprehensive approach highlights the value of combining genetic insights with practical health advice, providing a full strategy for addressing these widespread childhood issues.

Furthermore, the study supports using genetic testing in diagnosing asthma and allergic rhinitis, envisioning a future where personalized health strategies can greatly enhance patient care. By identifying children at a higher genetic risk for these conditions early, healthcare providers can take preventative steps and customize treatment plans to meet individual needs, showcasing the powerful potential of genetic research in improving public health outcomes. “We would like to express our profound gratitude to the research team at the Genetics Lab, Anderson Diagnostic Centre, Chennai. Their exceptional genetic work was crucial to the success of our study,” said Dr. Narmada Ashok and Dr. Radha Saraswathy, acknowledging the invaluable contributions made by their colleagues.


Dr. Narmada Ashok, Dr. Radha Saraswathy, “Association of polymorphisms of vitamin D gene in children with asthma and allergic rhinitis – Hospital based study”, Heliyon, 2024. DOI:


I am Dr. Narmada S, Pediatrician in practice for the past 20 years. Greatly interested in academics and updating my knowledge. This has led me to become the Fellow of Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health and a Fellow of Indian Academy of Pediatrics. I have specialized in allergy and asthma and now pursuing my research as a PhD scholar in the same subject while continuing to maintain my pediatric practice in my hospital. I have several publications and also authored chapters in textbooks. My interest also lies in doing my part as a pediatrician in preserving the environment for a better tomorrow for our children and hence have been an active member of environment child health group of IAP. I love to travel. Also I love music in any form and have been learning Carnatic Music for the past 6 years.