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Reviews Book

Allergy: The History of a Modern Malady

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 21 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:659
  1. John Henderson, reader in paediatric respiratory medicine (
  1. University of Bristol

    Since Clemens von Pirquet introduced the term allergy in 1906 it has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence in medical, sociological, and even geopolitical spheres. Mark Jackson charts this rise in a scholarly and richly referenced account that traces the history of allergy through the 20th century to its current position as a problem of epidemic proportions and places it in the context of changes in epidemiology, medical thinking, and modern society. His wide ranging work begins with the diminution of the germ theory of disease at the beginning of the 20th century, paving the way for notions about hosts' response being as important as external factors in determining disease causation and giving rise to the idea of “altered biological reactivity” encapsulated in von Pirquet's original description of allergy.

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    Mark Jackson

    Reaktion Books, £25, pp 256 ISBN 1 86189 271 3

    Rating: GraphicGraphicGraphicGraphic

    Jackson gives an intensely interesting account of the difficult birth of the concept of allergy, which was opposed by the proponents of anaphylaxis and surrounded …

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