High prevalence of allergic disease in Australian children

January 01, 0001

High prevalence of allergic disease in Australian children

Several indicators suggest that food allergy in infants is common and possibly increasing. Few studies have used oral food challenge to measure this phenomenon at the population level. The aim of this study was to measure the prevalence of common IgE-mediated childhood food allergies in a population-based sample of 12-month-old infants by using predetermined food challenge criteria to measure outcomes. Involved infants underwent skin prick testing, and those with any sensitization (wheal size greater than or equal to 1 mm) to 1 or more foods (raw egg, peanut, sesame, shellfish, or cow's milk) were invited to attend an allergy research clinic. Those who registered a wheal size greater than or equal to 1 mm to raw egg, peanut, or sesame underwent oral food challenge.

Amongst 2848 infants the prevalence of any sensitization to peanut was 8.9%; raw egg white, 16.5%; sesame, 2.5%; cow's milk, 5.6%; and shellfish, 0.9%. The prevalence of challenge-proven peanut allergy was 3.0%; raw egg allergy, 8.9%; and sesame allergy, 0.8%. Oral food challenges to cow's milk and shellfish were not performed. Of those with raw egg allergy, 80.3% could tolerate baked egg.

The researchers concluded: "More than 10% of 1-year- old infants had challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy to one of the common allergenic foods of infancy. The high prevalence of allergic disease in Australia requires further investigation and may be related to modifiable environmental factors."

It would be nice to have more science behind what often appears to be a guessing game.

For the full abstract, click here.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 127(3):668-676, March 2011
© 2011 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants. Nicholas J. Osborne, Jennifer J. Koplin, Pamela E. Martin et al for the HealthNuts Investigators. Correspondence to Katrina Allen: [email protected]

Category: B. Blood/Blood Forming Organs/Immune Mechanisms. Keywords: food allergy, anaphylaxis, infant, peanut, egg, sesame, cow's milk, skin prick testing, population, prevalence, oral food challenge, eczema, prevalence study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 25 March 2011

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