In Infants with Egg or Milk Allergy, Can Future Peanut Allergy Be Predicted?
Early results from a study of infants with egg or milk allergy indicate that they are highly likely to test positive for allergic antibodies that are specific to peanuts. This unexpected finding suggests that these infants are at risk for developing peanut allergy later in life and should be evaluated by a health care professional before introducing peanuts into their diet.
Goers: Early results in a study involving more than 500 infants show that infants who are already allergic to milk and/or egg are at high risk for developing a peanut allergy. Dr. Marshall Plaut is the Chief of the Allergic Mechanisms Section, Asthma, Allergy and Inflammation Branch with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Plaut: The purpose of this study is to look at the natural history of development of allergy to milk, egg and peanuts, and we started out with infants who were at high risk of development of peanut allergy in the hope that we would be able to look at certain measures that would correlate those who do develop peanut allergy and those who don't develop peanut allergy as well as those who start out with milk allergy and lose it.
Goers: Researchers enrolled infants between 3 and 15 months old for the ongoing observational study.
Dr. Plaut: There were two criteria for entry into the study either they had a known allergy to milk and/or egg because they had had a reaction to them, or they had a positive allergy test for milk or egg, not necessarily a known allergy to it, but they also had moderate or severe eczema or atopic dermatitis.
Goers: These infants will be followed until they are five years old. The infants are tested over time with blood samples and prick skin testing to monitor the allergic antibodies in their system.
Dr. Plaut: Even though we anticipated that there would be kids who already had allergic antibodies to peanut, we were very surprised about the proportion of kids who were very allergic to peanut. The majority of infants in the study already had evidence of allergic antibodies to peanut. And over a little bit more than a quarter of them had evidence of such high levels of antibody to peanut, that they’re probably at risk for being truly allergic to peanuts when and if they start eating them.
Goers: Researchers recommend that high risk infants should be tested for the allergy and seen by their physician before given peanuts. The findings appear in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. For more information on infant allergies, visit www.niaid.nih.gov. This is Elizabeth Goers, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Elizabeth Goers
Sound Bite: Dr. Marshall Plaut
Topic: infant allergies, peanuts, milk, eggs, antibodies, eczema