November 2016 Food Allergy Research Roundup
It’s time for this month’s update of what’s happening in the world of food allergy research. Check out what’s going on this month, and don’t forget to check back next month to find out what other new developments researchers are working on relating to food allergies.
Feeding Babies Peanut and Egg May Prevent Food Allergy
Data from 146 studies analyzed by Imperial College in London, which involved over 200,000 children, appears to show that introducing egg and peanut to babies may reduce their risk of developing allergies to these foods. Feeding egg to babies between four and six months old seems to reduce their risk of developing an egg allergy, while feeding peanut to babies between four and eleven months old seems to reduce the risk of peanut allergy. Egg and peanut are the two most common food allergies in children, and this is the largest study ever done that supports the evidence that introducing these foods early in life may help prevent allergies to them.
Skin Patches May Help Improve Peanut Allergies
One of the most dangerous allergens is peanuts, and exposure to even a very small amount can trigger a severe reaction. Researchers at the Consortium of Food Allergy Research tested a group of 74 volunteers between the ages of 4 and 20 to see if a small patch applied daily could help to build tolerance to the dangerous allergen. The conclusion was that those who received a patch containing higher doses of peanut protein each day were able to tolerate a slightly higher amount of exposure to peanuts after 12 months. The skin patch was most effective in those age 11 and younger. Researchers will continue to monitor the study volunteers.
Early Use of Antibiotics May Increase Risk of Food Allergies
Research from the University of South Carolina suggests that antibiotic treatment within the first year of life may contribute to the development of food allergies. After analyzing data compiled in South Carolina between 2007 and 2009, researchers found that children prescribed antibiotics during the first year of life were 1.21 times more likely to develop food allergies. Because of the difficulty distinguishing between viral and bacterial infections and the possibility of altering the gut flora that may lead to food allergies, medical professionals should prescribe antibiotics with caution. Researchers are expanding the scope of their research by including data from other states and will continue to study the possible connection between antibiotic use in babies and the potential for developing food allergies.
Pertussis Immunization and Food Allergies
Telethon Kids Institute in Australia is currently recruiting participants for a research study to evaluate pertussis immunizations and how they may be linked to food allergies. Acellular pertussis vaccination (aP) replaced whole cell vaccination (wP) against pertussis in the 1990s, which coincided with an increase in food allergies in Australian children. The aim of the study is to assess the food-allergy preventive benefit of using the wP immunization rather than the aP immunization for whooping cough. The expected outcome is that researchers will be able to determine whether there is an association between the type of vaccine given for pertussis, which will impact health policy in Australia and all around the world.