Milk and egg allergies today, peanut allergy tomorrow? This could well be, according to findings reported in May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study was conducted by a group of researchers who are part of the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), a major food allergy research program supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The CoFAR reseachers studied more than 500 babies aged between 3 and 15 months who were allergic to milk or egg and followed up the participants until their 5th birthday. The children are known to be allergic to egg and milk and as expected, tested positive for immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to these food items. However, none of the babies have known peanut allergy, yet many of these infants also surprising tested positive for allergic antibodies specific for peanuts. The researchers reported two unexpected observations:
“More of the infants have elevated levels of IgE antibody to peanuts than the investigators had anticipated, and some of these infants have such high levels that they may already be allergic to peanuts without their parents being aware of it.”
Aside from being positive to peanut-specific antibodies, many of the children also had moderate to severe eczema (atopic dermatitis).
Milk, eggs, and peanuts are the most common food allergies in children, as listed in a previous post. Gluten is also another common source of allergen. However, allergy to nuts, especially peanuts, presents a major concern due to the high likelihood of anaphylactic allergic reaction which can be life-threatening.
The results of the study suggest that milk and/or egg allergy, as well as eczema are major risk factors for developing peanut allergy later in life. The researchers recommend that parents of children with these risk factors should talk to a health professional before incorporating peanuts or peanut products into their child’s diet.
In addition, I would like to emphasize the importance of recognizing the symptoms of food allergy and knowing what to do about them. As reported previously, many parents may not know how to act appropriately when their children present with allergic reaction to certain food stuff. In the light of this latest report from CoFAR, I think it is worth giving our readers again some links to useful allergy resources:
Take the Food Allergy Screening Quiz.
Info on Anaphylaxis on Severe Allergic Reaction