International cooperation

Immediately after the start of PIAMA, there was already interest from other countries in including PIAMA in international networks of (birth) cohort studies. The money for setting up such a network often comes from the European Union, and the results are also presented there. The European Union can use the researchers’ recommendations to give advice or to adjust rules and policy in the interest of (the care for) asthma and allergy patients.

Within PIAMA we conduct scientific research into the development of asthma and airway allergy, but also into other chronic diseases such as diabetes. For this reason we are in possession of personal data of participants.

What is a cohort?

A cohort is in fact nothing more than a group of people who are followed as they grow older. In a cohort study, characteristics of the participants are recorded at the beginning and during the study. If some participants subsequently develop a disease or condition and others do not, these previously recorded characteristics can be used to determine which factors increase or decrease the risk of becoming ill. A birth cohort is a group of children who are followed in the same way from birth for a long period of time.

Exchanging data

The Netherlands has several (birth) cohorts, as do the countries around us. For some study purposes, it can be very important to combine data from multiple cohorts.

Think, for example, of diseases that do not occur very often – the larger the group of participants you have data for, the more people with the disease will be in that group, and the more reliably you can conduct research into that disease. PIAMA is or has been involved in various national and international studies, see the list below for an idea of what is being studied in these networks.

The data that is exchanged in these international studies can never be traced back to a participant, and a PIAMA researcher is always involved in the processing of PIAMA data. If data from the PIAMA study are used in one of these networks, and if this yields interesting results, we will of course let you know, in newsletters and on the website.

International networks


An EU project within the ‘European Human Exposome Network’

2020 – present

The exposome represents all external factors, which together and in interaction with each other, influence our health. What we eat and drink, the air we breathe, our social interactions and lifestyle choices such as smoking and exercise are examples of non-genetic factors that influence health. The aim of EXPANSE is to learn more about the contribution of the exposome to the development of lung and cardiometabolic diseases by looking at relationships between the exposome and these diseases within existing cohorts. How can we ensure good health in our modern cities?



Developing a Child Cohort Research Strategy for Europe

2010 – present

In Chicos, 76 cohorts from 21 countries are participating. Chicos focuses on information about mother and child; for example, about pregnancy and childbirth and health aspects for the growing child. This data is compiled from the various cohorts across Europe and studied with the aim of filling knowledge gaps and providing advice on how to improve conditions where necessary.



Environmental Health Risks in Europan Birth Cohorts

2009 – 2014

ENRIECO has access to 24 cohorts from 17 countries. They mainly look at links between specific living environment factors (such as passive smoking and exposure to moulds) and the health of newborn children.


European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects

2007 – 2012

About 30 cohorts from 17 countries are pooling their health and air pollution data to get a better look at how air pollution (mainly from traffic) affects young and old people’s health. Models are used to calculate the concentration of air pollution in each postcode area, thus providing a picture of where in Europe the people most affected by this pollution live.



Global Allergy and Astma European Network

2011 – present

GA2LEN is a network of researchers looking at asthma and allergy research in various cohorts. The GA2LEN project has been formally completed, but they are still working together. Among other things, it is being investigated whether pets increase the risk of asthma and allergy. For such a topic, it is important to do it together with many countries, because there are big differences between countries in “the kind of people” who choose pets and the way animals are kept. The study involved birth cohorts from Norway to Spain and concluded that the presence of pets in the first years of life does not lead to more asthma or nasal allergies. Doctors therefore do not have to advise expectant parents to get rid of pets to prevent their child from developing asthma.

GA2LEN is further exploring the best way to answer the research questions and also how the results can best be shared and used.



Pregnancy And Childhood Epigenetics

2013 – present

It has long been known that variation in the hereditary material (the DNA code) contributes to asthma and allergy. The PACE consortium is a global collaboration focusing on the epigenetic changes that are important in asthma and allergy. Epigenetics is about changes in the DNA, which are not in the DNA code, but are important for the writing down of genes.

PACE has led to important insights into how DNA changes under the influence of the environment. It turns out that if the mother smokes during pregnancy, the baby’s DNA changes in more than 5,000 places, some of those changes remaining visible until school age. Blood DNA changes also appear to be related to asthma, pointing to the role of a particular inflammatory cell, the eosinophil.

PACE has provided insights that enable a major step forward in understanding the mechanism behind the disease asthma. For more information, please see this article on PACE at https://academic.oup.com.



Mechanisms of the Development of ALLerg

2010 – 2015

In Medall, scientists from 23 institutes in some 15 countries collaborate, using data from 14 cohorts. They hope to identify the mechanisms by which allergies develop so that more can be done in the future to prevent them. The research project ended in 2015.


Traffic, pollution, asthma, genetics

2009 – 2012

A research project coordinated by the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, in collaboration with partners from Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, funded by AllerGen NCE (Allergy, Genes and Environment Network Centres of Excellence). TAG “T looks at asthma and allergy in relation to air pollution.

The genetic predisposition for asthma and allergy is an important factor in the development of these diseases, but there is evidence that, for example, air pollution can interact with the genes to increase the risk of these diseases. Researchers from 10 institutions and universities work together on this topic


Effects of outdoor and indoor air pollution on the development of allergic disease in children

2000 – 2003

Research project financed by the European Union (Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources in Key Action 4: Environment and Health, Proposal No QLK4-2000-00073). Partners: Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands; GSF Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany; Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden and Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Stockholm County; Exposure Assessment Laboratory; Environmental Epidemiology, Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu, Bilthoven, the Netherlands; and Centre for Perinatal, Paediatric and Environmental Epidemiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

TRAPCA study

Traffic-related air pollution and childhood asthma

1999 – 2002

Research project funded by the European Union (Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources in Key Action 4: Environment and Health, Proposal No ENV4 CT97-0506). Partners: Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands; GSF-Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany; Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden and Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Stockholm County Council; Laboratory of Exposure Assessment and Environmental Epidemiology National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.