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1.  Potential mechanisms for the association between fall birth and food allergy 
Allergy  2012;67(6):775-782.
Season of birth has been reported as a risk factor for food allergy, but the mechanisms by which it acts are unknown.
Two populations were studied; 5862 children from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III, 1514 well-characterized food allergic children from the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Allergy Clinic (JHPAC). Food allergy was defined as self report of an acute reaction to a food (NHANES), or as milk, egg and peanut allergy. Logistic regression compared fall or non-fall birth between (1) food allergic and non-allergic subjects in NHANES, adjusted for ethnicity, age, income and sex, and (2) JHPAC subjects and the general Maryland population. For NHANES, stratification by ethnicity and for JHPAC, eczema, was examined.
Fall birth was more common among food allergic subjects in both NHANES (OR: 1.91, 95%CI: 1.31–2.77) and JHPAC/Maryland (OR: 1.31, 95%CI: 1.18–1.47). Ethnicity interacted with season (OR 2.34, 95%CI 1.43–3.82 for Caucasians, OR 1.19, 95%CI 0.77–1.86 for non-Caucasians, p=0.04 for interaction), as did eczema (OR 1.47, 95%CI 1.29–1.67 with eczema, OR 1.00, 95%CI 0.80–1.23 without eczema, p=0.002 for interaction).
Fall birth is associated with increased risk of food allergy, and this risk is greatest among those most likely to have seasonal variation in vitamin D during infancy (Caucasians) and those at risk for skin barrier dysfunction (subjects with a history of eczema), suggesting that vitamin D and the skin barrier may be implicated in seasonal associations with food allergy.
PMCID: PMC3349789  PMID: 22515802
food allergy; season of birth; eczema; vitamin D
2.  Active or Passive Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Dermatitis, and Food Allergy in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001611.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Bahi Takkouche and colleagues examine the associations between exposure to tobacco smoke and allergic disorders in children and adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy are extremely common diseases, especially among children, and are frequently associated to each other and to asthma. Smoking is a potential risk factor for these conditions, but so far, results from individual studies have been conflicting. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for an association between active smoking (AS) or passive exposure to secondhand smoke and allergic conditions.
Methods and Findings
We retrieved studies published in any language up to June 30th, 2013 by systematically searching Medline, Embase, the five regional bibliographic databases of the World Health Organization, and ISI-Proceedings databases, by manually examining the references of the original articles and reviews retrieved, and by establishing personal contact with clinical researchers. We included cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies reporting odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates and confidence intervals of smoking and allergic conditions, first among the general population and then among children.
We retrieved 97 studies on allergic rhinitis, 91 on allergic dermatitis, and eight on food allergy published in 139 different articles. When all studies were analyzed together (showing random effects model results and pooled ORs expressed as RR), allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking (pooled RR, 1.02 [95% CI 0.92–1.15]), but was associated with passive smoking (pooled RR 1.10 [95% CI 1.06–1.15]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active (pooled RR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.14–1.29]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.07 [95% CI 1.03–1.12]). In children and adolescent, allergic rhinitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.40 (95% CI 1.24–1.59) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.09 [95% CI 1.04–1.14]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.46]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.06 [95% CI 1.01–1.11]). Food allergy was associated with SHS (1.43 [1.12–1.83]) when cohort studies only were examined, but not when all studies were combined.
The findings are limited by the potential for confounding and bias given that most of the individual studies used a cross-sectional design. Furthermore, the studies showed a high degree of heterogeneity and the exposure and outcome measures were assessed by self-report, which may increase the potential for misclassification.
We observed very modest associations between smoking and some allergic diseases among adults. Among children and adolescents, both active and passive exposure to SHS were associated with a modest increased risk for allergic diseases, and passive smoking was associated with an increased risk for food allergy. Additional studies with detailed measurement of exposure and better case definition are needed to further explore the role of smoking in allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Whenever a pathogen enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on its surface and release chemical messengers that recruit and activate other types of immune cells, which then attack the pathogen. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to harmless materials (for example, pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose; hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis), allergic dermatitis (also known as eczema, a disease characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin), and food allergy. Recent studies suggest that all these allergic (atopic) diseases are part of a continuous state called the “atopic march” in which individuals develop allergic diseases in a specific sequence that starts with allergic dermatitis during infancy, and progresses to food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and finally asthma (inflammation of the airways).
Why Was This Study Done?
Allergic diseases are extremely common, particularly in children. Allergic rhinitis alone affects 10%–30% of the world's population and up to 40% of children in some countries. Moreover, allergic diseases are becoming increasingly common. Allergic diseases affect the quality of life of patients and are financially costly to both patients and health systems. It is important, therefore, to identify the factors that cause or potentiate their development. One potential risk factor for allergic diseases is active or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. In some countries up to 80% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke so, from a public health point of view, it would be useful to know whether exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with the development of allergic diseases. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach for combining the results of several studies) to investigate this issue.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 196 observational studies (investigations that observe outcomes in populations without trying to affect these outcomes in any way) that examined the association between smoke exposure and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, or food allergy. When all studies were analyzed together, allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking but was slightly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Specifically, compared to people not exposed to second-hand smoke, the pooled relative risk (RR) of allergic rhinitis among people exposed to second-hand smoke was 1.10 (an RR of greater than 1 indicates an increased risk of disease development in an exposed population compared to an unexposed population). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active smoking (RR = 1.21) and exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.07). In the populations of children and adolescents included in the studies, allergic rhinitis was associated with both active smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (RRs of 1.40 and 1.09, respectively), as was allergic dermatitis (RRs of 1.36 and 1.06, respectively). Finally food allergy was associated with exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.43) when cohort studies (a specific type of observational study) only were examined but not when all the studies were combined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide limited evidence for a weak association between smoke exposure and allergic disease in adults but suggest that both active and passive smoking are associated with a modestly increased risk of allergic diseases in children and adolescents. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the use of questionnaires to assess smoke exposure and allergic disease development in most of the studies in the meta-analysis and by the possibility that individuals exposed to smoke may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of allergic diseases. To shed more light on the role of smoking in allergic diseases, additional studies are needed that accurately measure exposure and outcomes. However, the present findings suggest that, in countries where many people smoke, 14% and 13% of allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis, respectively, among children may be attributable to active smoking. Thus, the elimination of active smoking among children and adolescents could prevent one in seven cases of allergic rhinitis and one in eight cases of allergic dermatitis in such countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about allergic rhinitis, hay fever (including personal stories), allergic dermatitis (including personal stories), and food allergy (including personal stories)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information about allergic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about all aspects of allergic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and food allergy (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3949681  PMID: 24618794
3.  A retrospective chart review to identify perinatal factors associated with food allergies 
Nutrition Journal  2012;11:87.
Gut flora are important immunomodulators that may be disrupted in individuals with atopic conditions. Probiotic bacteria have been suggested as therapeutic modalities to mitigate or prevent food allergic manifestations. We wished to investigate whether perinatal factors known to disrupt gut flora increase the risk of IgE-mediated food allergies.
Birth records obtained from 192 healthy children and 99 children diagnosed with food allergies were reviewed retrospectively. Data pertaining to delivery method, perinatal antibiotic exposure, neonatal nursery environment, and maternal variables were recorded. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the association between variables of interest and subsequent food allergy diagnosis.
Retrospective investigation did not find perinatal antibiotics, NICU admission, or cesarean section to be associated with increased risk of food allergy diagnosis. However, associations between food allergy diagnosis and male gender (66 vs. 33; p=0.02) were apparent in this cohort. Additionally, increasing maternal age at delivery was significantly associated with food allergy diagnosis during childhood (OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.017 to 1.105; p=0.005).
Gut flora are potent immunomodulators, but their overall contribution to immune maturation remains to be elucidated. Additional understanding of the interplay between immunologic, genetic, and environmental factors underlying food allergy development need to be clarified before probiotic therapeutic interventions can routinely be recommended for prevention or mitigation of food allergies. Such interventions may be well-suited in male infants and in infants born to older mothers.
PMCID: PMC3493351  PMID: 23078601
Antibiotics; Atopic dermatitis; Bifidobacteria; Cesarean section; Food allergy; Group B Streptococcus; Gut flora; Lactobacillus; PBMC peripheral blood mononuclear cell
4.  Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing 
Executive Summary
This report from the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) was intended to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in average risk Canadians and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, this report also includes a systematic literature review of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in these two subgroups.
This evaluation did not set out to determine the serum vitamin D thresholds that might apply to non-bone health outcomes. For bone health outcomes, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support a target serum level above 50 nmol/L. Similarly, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support vitamin D’s effects in non-bone health outcomes, other than falls.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a lipid soluble vitamin that acts as a hormone. It stimulates intestinal calcium absorption and is important in maintaining adequate phosphate levels for bone mineralization, bone growth, and remodelling. It’s also believed to be involved in the regulation of cell growth proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death), as well as modulation of the immune system and other functions. Alone or in combination with calcium, Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce the risk of fractures in elderly men (≥ 65 years), postmenopausal women, and the risk of falls in community-dwelling seniors. However, in a comprehensive systematic review, inconsistent results were found concerning the effects of vitamin D in conditions such as cancer, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found concerning the effects of vitamin D in such non-bone health outcomes. Given the uncertainties surrounding the effects of vitamin D in non-bone health related outcomes, it was decided that this evaluation should focus on falls and the effects of vitamin D in bone health and exclusively within average-risk individuals and patients with kidney disease.
Synthesis of vitamin D occurs naturally in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight, but it can also be obtained from dietary sources including fortified foods, and supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, fish liver oil, and some types of mushrooms. Since it is usually difficult to obtain sufficient vitamin D from non-fortified foods, either due to low content or infrequent use, most vitamin D is obtained from fortified foods, exposure to sunlight, and supplements.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets in infants and osteomalacia in adults. Factors believed to be associated with vitamin D deficiency include:
darker skin pigmentation,
winter season,
living at higher latitudes,
skin coverage,
kidney disease,
malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and
genetic factors.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency due to either renal losses or decreased synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Health Canada currently recommends that, until the daily recommended intakes (DRI) for vitamin D are updated, Canada’s Food Guide (Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide) should be followed with respect to vitamin D intake. Issued in 2007, the Guide recommends that Canadians consume two cups (500 ml) of fortified milk or fortified soy beverages daily in order to obtain a daily intake of 200 IU. In addition, men and women over the age of 50 should take 400 IU of vitamin D supplements daily. Additional recommendations were made for breastfed infants.
A Canadian survey evaluated the median vitamin D intake derived from diet alone (excluding supplements) among 35,000 Canadians, 10,900 of which were from Ontario. Among Ontarian males ages 9 and up, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake ranged between 196 IU and 272 IU per day. Among females, it varied from 152 IU to 196 IU per day. In boys and girls ages 1 to 3, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake was 248 IU, while among those 4 to 8 years it was 224 IU.
Vitamin D Testing
Two laboratory tests for vitamin D are available, 25-hydroxy vitamin D, referred to as 25(OH)D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D status is assessed by measuring the serum 25(OH)D levels, which can be assayed using radioimmunoassays, competitive protein-binding assays (CPBA), high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). These may yield different results with inter-assay variation reaching up to 25% (at lower serum levels) and intra-assay variation reaching 10%.
The optimal serum concentration of vitamin D has not been established and it may change across different stages of life. Similarly, there is currently no consensus on target serum vitamin D levels. There does, however, appear to be a consensus on the definition of vitamin D deficiency at 25(OH)D < 25 nmol/l, which is based on the risk of diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia. Higher target serum levels have also been proposed based on subclinical endpoints such as parathyroid hormone (PTH). Therefore, in this report, two conservative target serum levels have been adopted, 25 nmol/L (based on the risk of rickets and osteomalacia), and 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on vitamin D’s interaction with PTH).
Ontario Context
Volume & Cost
The volume of vitamin D tests done in Ontario has been increasing over the past 5 years with a steep increase of 169,000 tests in 2007 to more than 393,400 tests in 2008. The number of tests continues to rise with the projected number of tests for 2009 exceeding 731,000. According to the Ontario Schedule of Benefits, the billing cost of each test is $51.7 for 25(OH)D (L606, 100 LMS units, $0.517/unit) and $77.6 for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (L605, 150 LMS units, $0.517/unit). Province wide, the total annual cost of vitamin D testing has increased from approximately $1.7M in 2004 to over $21.0M in 2008. The projected annual cost for 2009 is approximately $38.8M.
Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective of this report is to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, the report also sought to evaluate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada. The specific research questions addressed were thus:
What is the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in subjects with kidney disease?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the average risk population in Canada?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with kidney disease in Canada?
Clinical utility was defined as the ability to improve bone health outcomes with the focus on the average risk population (excluding those with osteoporosis) and patients with kidney disease.
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 17th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1998 until July 17th, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Observational studies that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada in the population of interest were included based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria listed below. The baseline values were used in this report in the case of interventional studies that evaluated the effect of vitamin D intake on serum levels. Studies published in grey literature were included if no studies published in the peer-reviewed literature were identified for specific outcomes or subgroups.
Considering that vitamin D status may be affected by factors such as latitude, sun exposure, food fortification, among others, the search focused on prevalence studies published in Canada. In cases where no Canadian prevalence studies were identified, the decision was made to include studies from the United States, given the similar policies in vitamin D food fortification and recommended daily intake.
Inclusion Criteria
Studies published in English
Publications that reported the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada
Studies that included subjects from the general population or with kidney disease
Studies in children or adults
Studies published between January 1998 and July 17th 2009
Exclusion Criteria
Studies that included subjects defined according to a specific disease other than kidney disease
Letters, comments, and editorials
Studies that measured the serum vitamin D levels but did not report the percentage of subjects with serum levels below a given threshold
Outcomes of Interest
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 25 nmol/L
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 40 to 50 nmol/L
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was the metabolite used to assess vitamin D status. Results from adult and children studies were reported separately. Subgroup analyses according to factors that affect serum vitamin D levels (e.g., seasonal effects, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake) were reported if enough information was provided in the studies
Quality of Evidence
The quality of the prevalence studies was based on the method of subject recruitment and sampling, possibility of selection bias, and generalizability to the source population. The overall quality of the trials was examined according to the GRADE Working Group criteria.
Summary of Findings
Fourteen prevalence studies examining Canadian adults and children met the eligibility criteria. With the exception of one longitudinal study, the studies had a cross-sectional design. Two studies were conducted among Canadian adults with renal disease but none studied Canadian children with renal disease (though three such US studies were included). No systematic reviews or health technology assessments that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada were identified. Two studies were published in grey literature, consisting of a Canadian survey designed to measure serum vitamin D levels and a study in infants presented as an abstract at a conference. Also included were the results of vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories in Ontario between October 2008 and September 2009 (provided by the Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories).
Different threshold levels were used in the studies, thus we reported the percentage of subjects with serum levels of between 25 and 30 nmol/L and between 37.5 and 50 nmol/L. Some studies stratified the results according to factors affecting vitamin D status and two used multivariate models to investigate the effects of these characteristics (including age, season, BMI, vitamin D intake, skin pigmentation, and season) on serum 25(OH)D levels. It’s unclear, however, if these studies were adequately powered for these subgroup analyses.
Study participants generally consisted of healthy, community-dwelling subjects and most excluded individuals with conditions or medications that alter vitamin D or bone metabolism, such as kidney or liver disease. Although the studies were conducted in different parts of Canada, fewer were performed in Northern latitudes, i.e. above 53°N, which is equivalent to the city of Edmonton.
Serum vitamin D levels of < 25 to 30 nmol/L were observed in 0% to 25.5% of the subjects included in five studies; the weighted average was 3.8% (95% CI: 3.0, 4.6). The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that approximately 5% of the subjects had serum levels below 29.5 nmol/L. The results of over 600,000 vitamin D tests performed in Ontarian community laboratories between October 2008 and September 2009 showed that 2.6% of adults (> 18 years) had serum levels < 25 nmol/L.
The prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below 37.5-50 nmol/L reported among studies varied widely, ranging from 8% to 73.6% with a weighted average of 22.5%. The preliminary results of the CHMS survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects had serum levels below 37 to 48 nmol/L. The results of the vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories showed that 10% to 25% of the individuals had serum levels between 39 and 50 nmol/L.
In an attempt to explain this inter-study variation, the study results were stratified according to factors affecting serum vitamin D levels, as summarized below. These results should be interpreted with caution as none were adjusted for other potential confounders. Adequately powered multivariate analyses would be necessary to determine the contribution of risk factors to lower serum 25(OH)D levels.
Seasonal variation
Three adult studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in different seasons observed a trend towards a higher prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L during the winter and spring months, specifically 21% to 39%, compared to 8% to 14% in the summer. The weighted average was 23.6% over the winter/spring months and 9.6% over summer. The difference between the seasons was not statistically significant in one study and not reported in the other two studies.
Skin Pigmentation
Four studies observed a trend toward a higher prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L in subjects with darker skin pigmentation compared to those with lighter skin pigmentation, with weighted averages of 46.8% among adults with darker skin colour and 15.9% among those with fairer skin.
Vitamin D intake and serum levels
Four adult studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels according to vitamin D intake and showed an overall trend toward a lower prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L with higher levels of vitamin D intake. One study observed a dose-response relationship between higher vitamin D intake from supplements, diet (milk), and sun exposure (results not adjusted for other variables). It was observed that subjects taking 50 to 400 IU or > 400 IU of vitamin D per day had a 6% and 3% prevalence of serum vitamin D level < 40 nmol/L, respectively, versus 29% in subjects not on vitamin D supplementation. Similarly, among subjects drinking one or two glasses of milk per day, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was found to be 15%, versus 6% in those who drink more than two glasses of milk per day and 21% among those who do not drink milk. On the other hand, one study observed little variation in serum vitamin D levels during winter according to milk intake, with the proportion of subjects exhibiting vitamin D levels of < 40 nmol/L being 21% among those drinking 0-2 glasses per day, 26% among those drinking > 2 glasses, and 20% among non-milk drinkers.
The overall quality of evidence for the studies conducted among adults was deemed to be low, although it was considered moderate for the subgroups of skin pigmentation and seasonal variation.
Newborn, Children and Adolescents
Five Canadian studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in newborns, children, and adolescents. In four of these, it was found that between 0 and 36% of children exhibited deficiency across age groups with a weighted average of 6.4%. The results of over 28,000 vitamin D tests performed in children 0 to 18 years old in Ontario laboratories (Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2009) showed that 4.4% had serum levels of < 25 nmol/L.
According to two studies, 32% of infants 24 to 30 months old and 35.3% of newborns had serum vitamin D levels of < 50 nmol/L. Two studies of children 2 to 16 years old reported that 24.5% and 34% had serum vitamin D levels below 37.5 to 40 nmol/L. In both studies, older children exhibited a higher prevalence than younger children, with weighted averages 34.4% and 10.3%, respectively. The overall weighted average of the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L among pediatric studies was 25.8%. The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects between 6 and 11 years (N= 435) had serum levels below 50 nmol/L, while for those 12 to 19 years, 25% to 50% exhibited serum vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L.
The effects of season, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake were not explored in Canadian pediatric studies. A Canadian surveillance study did, however, report 104 confirmed cases1 (2.9 cases per 100,000 children) of vitamin D-deficient rickets among Canadian children age 1 to 18 between 2002 and 2004, 57 (55%) of which from Ontario. The highest incidence occurred among children living in the North, i.e., the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. In 92 (89%) cases, skin pigmentation was categorized as intermediate to dark, 98 (94%) had been breastfed, and 25 (24%) were offspring of immigrants to Canada. There were no cases of rickets in children receiving ≥ 400 IU VD supplementation/day.
Overall, the quality of evidence of the studies of children was considered very low.
Kidney Disease
Two studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in Canadian adults with kidney disease. The first included 128 patients with chronic kidney disease stages 3 to 5, 38% of which had serum vitamin D levels of < 37.5 nmol/L (measured between April and July). This is higher than what was reported in Canadian studies of the general population during the summer months (i.e. between 8% and 14%). In the second, which examined 419 subjects who had received a renal transplantation (mean time since transplantation: 7.2 ± 6.4 years), the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was 27.3%. The authors concluded that the prevalence observed in the study population was similar to what is expected in the general population.
No studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in Canadian pediatric patients with kidney disease could be identified, although three such US studies among children with chronic kidney disease stages 1 to 5 were. The mean age varied between 10.7 and 12.5 years in two studies but was not reported in the third. Across all three studies, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below the range of 37.5 to 50 nmol/L varied between 21% and 39%, which is not considerably different from what was observed in studies of healthy Canadian children (24% to 35%).
Overall, the quality of evidence in adults and children with kidney disease was considered very low.
Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing
A high quality comprehensive systematic review published in August 2007 evaluated the association between serum vitamin D levels and different bone health outcomes in different age groups. A total of 72 studies were included. The authors observed that there was a trend towards improvement in some bone health outcomes with higher serum vitamin D levels. Nevertheless, precise thresholds for improved bone health outcomes could not be defined across age groups. Further, no new studies on the association were identified during an updated systematic review on vitamin D published in July 2009.
With regards to non-bone health outcomes, there is no high or even moderate quality evidence that supports the effectiveness of vitamin D in outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality. Even if there is any residual uncertainty, there is no evidence that testing vitamin D levels encourages adherence to Health Canada’s guidelines for vitamin D intake. A normal serum vitamin D threshold required to prevent non-bone health related conditions cannot be resolved until a causal effect or correlation has been demonstrated between vitamin D levels and these conditions. This is as an ongoing research issue around which there is currently too much uncertainty to base any conclusions that would support routine vitamin D testing.
For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), there is again no high or moderate quality evidence supporting improved outcomes through the use of calcitriol or vitamin D analogs. In the absence of such data, the authors of the guidelines for CKD patients consider it best practice to maintain serum calcium and phosphate at normal levels, while supplementation with active vitamin D should be considered if serum PTH levels are elevated. As previously stated, the authors of guidelines for CKD patients believe that there is not enough evidence to support routine vitamin D [25(OH)D] testing. According to what is stated in the guidelines, decisions regarding the commencement or discontinuation of treatment with calcitriol or vitamin D analogs should be based on serum PTH, calcium, and phosphate levels.
Limitations associated with the evidence of vitamin D testing include ambiguities in the definition of an ‘adequate threshold level’ and both inter- and intra- assay variability. The MAS considers both the lack of a consensus on the target serum vitamin D levels and assay limitations directly affect and undermine the clinical utility of testing. The evidence supporting the clinical utility of vitamin D testing is thus considered to be of very low quality.
Daily vitamin D intake, either through diet or supplementation, should follow Health Canada’s recommendations for healthy individuals of different age groups. For those with medical conditions such as renal disease, liver disease, and malabsorption syndromes, and for those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, physician guidance should be followed with respect to both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
Studies indicate that vitamin D, alone or in combination with calcium, may decrease the risk of fractures and falls among older adults.
There is no high or moderate quality evidence to support the effectiveness of vitamin D in other outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canadian adults and children is relatively low (approximately 5%), and between 10% and 25% have serum levels below 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on very low to low grade evidence).
Given the limitations associated with serum vitamin D measurement, ambiguities in the definition of a ‘target serum level’, and the availability of clear guidelines on vitamin D supplementation from Health Canada, vitamin D testing is not warranted for the average risk population.
Health Canada has issued recommendations regarding the adequate daily intake of vitamin D, but current studies suggest that the mean dietary intake is below these recommendations. Accordingly, Health Canada’s guidelines and recommendations should be promoted.
Based on a moderate level of evidence, individuals with darker skin pigmentation appear to have a higher risk of low serum vitamin D levels than those with lighter skin pigmentation and therefore may need to be specially targeted with respect to optimum vitamin D intake. The cause-effect of this association is currently unclear.
Individuals with medical conditions such as renal and liver disease, osteoporosis, and malabsorption syndromes, as well as those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, should follow their physician’s guidance concerning both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
PMCID: PMC3377517  PMID: 23074397
5.  Seasonal Variation in Skin Sensitivity to Aeroallergens 
We previously demonstrated seasonal variation in sensitization to aeroallergens in a small group of patients with exercise-induced asthma. This study was performed to confirm the relationship in a much larger population.
The charts of 1,891 patients who received allergy skin prick tests were reviewed retrospectively. The test results from subjects aged ≤60 years were compared between the groups classified according to the season when the patients received the tests (spring: March-May, summer: June-August, fall: September-November, winter: December-February). The data from 25 respiratory allergy patients who received the tests two or more times and showed a positive response at least once were analyzed longitudinally.
The most prevalent among 29 tested aeroallergens were house dust mites (HDMs) Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and D. farinae. The skin sensitization rates to D. pteronyssinus (23.2% vs. 32.1%, P=0.004) and D. farinae (22.2% vs. 30.2%, P=0.009) were significantly lower in the summer and higher in the fall (38.3% vs. 26.6% and 35.6% vs. 25.3%; P=0.001 respectively) than those in other seasons in patients with a respiratory allergy (n=1,102). The sensitization rates to weed pollens in the fall (13.9% vs. 8.3%, P=0.006) and to Aspergillus fumigatus in the winter (2.9% vs. 0.7%, P=0.005) were significantly higher. In patients with non-respiratory allergy such as urticaria/anaphylaxis (n=340), the D. farinae sensitization rate was significantly lower in the summer also but higher in the spring. The trend of the HDM sensitization rate being lower in the summer and higher in the fall was observed in the longitudinal study.
Skin sensitivity to aeroallergens such as HDMs, pollens, and molds demonstrates seasonal variation in respiratory allergy patients. Non-respiratory allergy patients also showed seasonal variation in sensitivity to aeroallergens, which might be related to the "priming" effect of allergens.
PMCID: PMC3756177  PMID: 24003387
Seasonal variation; skin sensitivity; aeroallergens; allergy
6.  IgE mediated food allergy in Korean children: focused on plant food allergy 
Asia Pacific Allergy  2013;3(1):15-22.
Food allergy (FA) is a worldwide problem, with increasing prevalence in many countries, and it poses a clearly increasing health problem in Korea. In Korea, as a part of International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood (ISAAC), a series of nation-wide population studies for prevalence of allergic disease in children were carried out, with the Korean version of ISAAC in 1995, 2000, and 2010. From the survey, the twelve-month prevalence of FA showed no significant differences from 1995 to 2000 in both age groups (6-12 years-old, 6.5% in 1995 and 5.7% in 2000; 12-15 year-olds, 7.4% in 1995 and 8.6% in 2000). The mean lifetime prevalence of FA which had ever been diagnosed by medical doctor was 4.7% in 6-12 year-olds and 5.1% in 12-15 year-olds respectively in 2000. In Korean children, the major causes of FA are almost same as in other countries, although the order prevalence may vary, a prime example of which being that peanut and tree nut allergies are not prevalent, as in western countries. Both pediatric emergency department (ED) visits and deaths relating to food induced anaphylaxis have also increased in western countries. From a study which based on data from the Korean Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (KHIRA) from 2001 to 2007, the incidence of anaphylaxis under the age of 19 was 0.7-1 per 100,000 person-year, and foods (24.9%) were the most commonly identified cause of childhood anaphylaxis. In another epidemiologic study, involving 78889 patients aged 0-18 years who visited the EDs of 9 hospitals during June 2008 to Mar 2009, the incidence of food related anaphylaxis was 4.56 per 10,000 pediatric ED visits. From these studies, common causes of food related anaphylaxis were seafood, buckwheat, cow's milk, fruits, peanut and tree nuts. Although systematic epidemiologic studies have not reported on the matter, recently, plant foods related allergy has increased in Korean children. Among 804 children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, we reveals that the peanut sensitization rate in Korea reaches 18%, and that, when sensitized to peanut, patients showed a significant tendency to have co-sensitization with house dust mites, egg white, wheat, and soybean. The higher specific IgE to peanut was related to the likelihood of the patient developing severe systemic reactions. In another study, based on the data analysis of 69 patients under 4 years of age who had suspected peanut and tree nut allergy, 22 (31.9%) were sensitized to walnut (>0.35 kU/L, 0.45-27.4 kU/L) and 6 (8.7%) experienced anaphylaxis due to a small amount of walnut exposure. Furthermore, in this review, clinical and immunological studies on plant food allergies, such as buckwheat allergy, rice allergy, barley allergy, and kiwi fruit allergy, in Korean children are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3563016  PMID: 23403730
Food allergy; Korean children; Anaphylaxis; Plant food allergy
7.  Allergy: A Risk Factor for Suicide? 
Opinion statement
The rates of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance (suicide risk factors) are greater in patients with allergic rhinitis than in the general population. The rate of allergy is also greater in patients with depression. Preliminary data suggest that patients with a history of allergy may have an increased rate of suicide. Clinicians should actively inquire to diagnose allergy in patients with depression and depression in patients with allergy.
Spring peaks of suicide are highly replicated, but their origin is poorly understood. Preliminary epidemiologic data suggest that seasonal spring peaks in aeroallergens are associated with seasonal spring peaks in suicide. Our research in Brown Norway rats demonstrates that sensitization and exposure to aeroallergens induces anxiety-like and aggressive behaviors as well as allergy-related helper T-cell type 2 (Th2) cytokine gene expression in the prefrontal cortex. Thus, it is possible that sensitization and exposure to aeroallergens, which peak in spring, may be conducive to seasonal exacerbation of suicide risk factors such as anxiety, depression, hostility/ aggression, and sleep disturbance. Connecting allergy with suicide and suicide risk factors adds to previous neurologic literature connecting allergy with migraines and seizure disorders.
Our recent report of Th2 (allergy-mediating) cytokine expression in the orbito-frontal cortex of suicide victims should lead to future studies to test the hypothesis that mediators of allergic inflammation in the nasal cavities may result in Th2 cytokine expression in the brain, influencing affect and behavioral modulation.
Certain medications used to treat allergy can exacerbate suicide risk factors, potentially worsening suicide risk and even triggering suicide. Systemic (but not topical) corticosteroids have been associated with manic and depressive episodes and mixed mood states. Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration started investigating the possibility that montelukast may trigger suicide. Although this association requires further exploration and confirmation, clinicians should err on the side of caution, inquiring about past suicide attempts; hopelessness; reasons for living; and suicidal ideation, intent, or plan; and referring the patient to a mental health professional for evaluation if appropriate.
PMCID: PMC2592251  PMID: 18782509
8.  High Levels of Both n-3 and n-6 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Cord Serum Phospholipids Predict Allergy Development 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67920.
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) reduce T-cell activation and dampen inflammation. They might thereby counteract the neonatal immune activation and hamper normal tolerance development to harmless environmental antigens. We investigated whether fatty acid composition of cord serum phospholipids affects allergy development up to age 13 years.
From a population-based birth-cohort born in 1996/7 and followed until 13 years of age (n = 794), we selected cases with atopic eczema (n = 37) or respiratory allergy (n = 44), as well as non-allergic non-sensitized controls (n = 48) based on diagnosis at 13 years of age. Cord and maternal sera obtained at delivery from cases and controls were analysed for proportions of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids among serum phospholipids.
The cord serum phospholipids from subject who later developed either respiratory allergy or atopic eczema had significantly higher proportions of 5/8 LCPUFA species, as well as total n-3 LCPUFA, total n-6 LCPUFA and total LCPUFA compared to cord serum phospholipids from controls who did not develop allergy (P<0.001 for all comparisons). Conversely, individuals later developing allergy had lower proportion of the monounsaturated fatty acid 18∶1n-9 as well as total MUFA (p<0.001) among cord serum phospholipids. The risk of respiratory allergy at age 13 increased linearly with the proportion of n-3 LCPUFA (Ptrend<0.001), n-6 LCPUFA (Ptrend = 0.001), and total LCPUFA (Ptrend<0.001) and decreased linearly with the proportions of total MUFA (Ptrend = 0.025) in cord serum phospholipids. Furthermore, Kaplan-Meier estimates of allergy development demonstrated that total LCPUFA proportion in cord serum phospholipids was significantly associated with respiratory allergy (P = 0.008) and sensitization (P = 0.002), after control for sex and parental allergy.
A high proportion of long-chain PUFAs among cord serum phospholipids may predispose to allergy development. The mechanism is unknown, but may involve dampening of the physiologic immune activation in infancy needed for proper maturation of the infant's immune system.
PMCID: PMC3707846  PMID: 23874467
9.  The effects of elimination diet on nutritional status in subjects with atopic dermatitis 
Nutrition Research and Practice  2013;7(6):488-494.
A food allergy is an adverse health effect arising from a specific immune response that occurs reproducibly upon exposure to a given food. In those with food allergies that are thought to cause aggravation of eczema, food avoidance is important. The objective of this study was to research the nutritional status of patients with food allergies. A total of 225 subjects diagnosed with atopic dermatitis underwent a skin prick test as well as measurement of serum immunoglobulin E. Food challenge tests were conducted using seven food items: milk, eggs, wheat, soybeans, beef, pork, and chicken. At post-food challenge visits to the test clinic, participants completed a three-day dietary record, which included two week days and one weekend day, in order to evaluate energy intake and diet quality during the challenge. We analyzed nutrient intake based on differential food allergens. Subjects with a food allergy to milk showed lower intake of Ca, Zn, and vitamin B2, and subjects with a food allergy to egg showed lower intake of vitamin A, B1, B2, niacin, and cholesterol. Subjects with a food allergy to wheat and soybean showed lower intake of Ca, P, Fe, K, Zn, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and niacin; and subjects with a food allergy to beef, pork, and chicken showed lower intake of Fe and higher intake of K, vitamin A, B2. Subjects with atopic dermatitis were lacking in several nutrients, including vitamin A and vitamin C. A greater number of food allergies showed an association with a greater number of nutrient intake deficiencies. Allergen avoidance is the basic treatment for atopic dermatitis. However, when the allergen is food, excessive restriction can lead to nutrition deficiency. Findings of this study suggest the necessity for enhanced nutritional education in order to provide substitute foods for patients with food allergies who practice food restriction.
PMCID: PMC3865272  PMID: 24353835
Food allergy; atopic dermatitis; food restriction
10.  A Prospective Study of Plasma Vitamin D Metabolites, Vitamin D Receptor Polymorphisms, and Prostate Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e103.
Vitamin D insufficiency is a common public health problem nationwide. Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D), the most commonly used index of vitamin D status, is converted to the active hormone 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]2D), which, operating through the vitamin D receptor (VDR), inhibits in vitro cell proliferation, induces differentiation and apoptosis, and may protect against prostate cancer. Despite intriguing results from laboratory studies, previous epidemiological studies showed inconsistent associations of circulating levels of 25(OH)D, 1,25(OH)2D, and several VDR polymorphisms with prostate cancer risk. Few studies have explored the joint association of circulating vitamin D levels with VDR polymorphisms.
Methods and Findings
During 18 y of follow-up of 14,916 men initially free of diagnosed cancer, we identified 1,066 men with incident prostate cancer (including 496 with aggressive disease, defined as stage C or D, Gleason 7–10, metastatic, and fatal prostate cancer) and 1,618 cancer-free, age- and smoking-matched control participants in the Physicians' Health Study. We examined the associations of prediagnostic plasma levels of 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D, individually and jointly, with total and aggressive disease, and explored whether relations between vitamin D metabolites and prostate cancer were modified by the functional VDR FokI polymorphism, using conditional logistic regression. Among these US physicians, the median plasma 25(OH)D levels were 25 ng/ml in the blood samples collected during the winter or spring and 32 ng/ml in samples collected during the summer or fall. Nearly 13% (summer/fall) to 36% (winter/spring) of the control participants were deficient in 25(OH)D (<20 ng/ml) and 51% (summer/fall) and 77% (winter/spring) had insufficient plasma 25(OH)D levels (<32 ng/ml). Plasma levels of 1,25(OH)2D did not vary by season. Men whose levels for both 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D were below (versus above) the median had a significantly increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer (odds ratio [OR] = 2.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2–3.4), although the interaction between the two vitamin D metabolites was not statistically significant (pinteraction = 0.23). We observed a significant interaction between circulating 25(OH)D levels and the VDR FokI genotype (pinteraction < 0.05). Compared with those with plasma 25(OH)D levels above the median and with the FokI FF or Ff genotype, men who had low 25(OH)D levels and the less functional FokI ff genotype had increased risks of total (OR = 1.9, 95% CI 1.1–3.3) and aggressive prostate cancer (OR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.1–5.8). Among men with plasma 25(OH)D levels above the median, the ff genotype was no longer associated with risk. Conversely, among men with the ff genotype, high plasma 25(OH)D level (above versus below the median) was related to significant 60%∼70% lower risks of total and aggressive prostate cancer.
Our data suggest that a large proportion of the US men had suboptimal vitamin D status (especially during the winter/spring season), and both 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D may play an important role in preventing prostate cancer progression. Moreover, vitamin D status, measured by 25(OH)D in plasma, interacts with the VDR FokI polymorphism and modifies prostate cancer risk. Men with the less functional FokI ff genotype (14% in the European-descent population of this cohort) are more susceptible to this cancer in the presence of low 25(OH)D status.
Results of this study by Haojie Li and colleagues suggest that vitamin D deficiency is common among men in the US, and that vitamin D status and genetic variation in theVDR gene affect prostate cancer risk.
Editors' Summary
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland (part of the male reproductive system) accumulate genetic changes that allow them to grow into a disorganized mass of cells. Patients whose disease is diagnosed when these cells are still relatively normal can survive for many years, but for patients with aggressive cancers—ones containing fast-growing cells that can migrate around the body—the outlook is poor. Factors that increase prostate cancer risk include increasing age, having a family history of prostate cancer, and being African American. Also, there are hints that some environmental or dietary factors affect prostate cancer risk. One of these factors is vitamin D, of which high levels are found in seafood and dairy products, but which can also be made naturally by the body—more specifically, by sunlight-exposed skin. One reason researchers think vitamin D might protect against prostate cancer is that this cancer is more common in sun-starved northern countries (where people often have a vitamin D deficiency) than in sunny regions. Prostate cancer is also more common in African American men than in those of European descent (when exposed to the same amount of sunlight, individuals with darker skin make less vitamin D than those with lighter skin). Once in the human body, vitamin D is converted into the vitamin D metabolite 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D) and then into the active hormone 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]2D). This binds to vitamin D receptors (VDRs) and inhibits cell proliferation and migration.
Why Was This Study Done?
The effect of 1,25(OH)2D on cells and the observation that related chemicals slow prostate cancer growth in rodents suggest that vitamin D protects against prostate cancer. But circulating levels of vitamin D metabolites in human male populations do not always reflect how many men develop prostate cancer. This lack of correlation may partly be because different forms of the VDR gene exist. One area of variation in the VDR gene is called the FokI polymorphism. Because everyone carries two copies of the VDR gene, individuals may have a FokI FF, FokI Ff, or FokI ff genotype. The f variant (or allele) codes for a receptor that is less responsive to 1,25(OH)2D than the receptor encoded by the FokI F allele. So levels of vitamin D sufficient to prevent cancer in one person may be insufficient in someone with a different FokI genotype. In this study, the researchers have investigated how levels of 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D in combination with different VDR FokI alleles are influencing prostate cancer risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 1,066 men who developed prostate cancer between enrollment into the US Physicians' Health Study in 1982 and 2000, and 1,618 cancer-free men of the same ages and smoking levels as “controls.” They measured vitamin D metabolite levels in many of the blood samples taken from these men in 1982 and determined their FokI genotype. Two-thirds of the men had insufficient blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the winter/spring; almost one-third had a vitamin D deficiency. Men whose blood levels of both metabolites were below average were twice as likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer as those in whom both levels were above average. Compared with men with high blood levels of 25(OH)D and the FokI FF or Ff genotype, men with low 25(OH)D levels and the FokI ff genotype were 2.5 times as likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. However, men with the ff genotype were not at higher risk if they had sufficient 25(OH)D levels. Among men with the ff genotype, sufficient 25(OH)D levels might therefore protect against prostate cancer, especially against the clinically aggressive form.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings confirm that many US men have suboptimal levels of circulating vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for healthy bones, so irrespective of its effects on prostate cancer, vitamin D supplements might improve overall health. In addition, this large and lengthy study reveals an association between low levels of the two vitamin D metabolites and aggressive prostate cancer that is consistent with vitamin D helping to prevent the progression of prostate cancer. It also indicates that the VDR FokI genotype modifies the prostate cancer risk associated with different blood levels of vitamin D. Together, these results suggest that improving vitamin D status through increased exposure to sun and vitamin D supplements might reduce prostate cancer risk, particularly in men with the FokI ff genotype. Because the study participants were mainly of European descent, the researchers caution that these results may not apply to other ethnic groups and note that further detailed studies are needed to understand fully how vitamin D affects prostate cancer risk across the population.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on prostate cancer and on vitamin D
Information for patients and physicians is available from the US National Cancer Institute on prostate cancer and on cancer prevention
The Prostate Cancer Foundation's information on prostate cancer discusses the effects of nutrition on the disease
Patient information on prostate cancer is available from Cancer Research UK
Cancerbackup also has patient information on prostate cancer
PMCID: PMC1831738  PMID: 17388667
11.  Peanut allergy: Effect of environmental peanut exposure in children with filaggrin loss-of-function mutations 
Filaggrin (FLG) loss-of-function mutations lead to an impaired skin barrier associated with peanut allergy. Household peanut consumption is associated with peanut allergy, and peanut allergen in household dust correlates with household peanut consumption.
We sought to determine whether environmental peanut exposure increases the odds of peanut allergy and whether FLG mutations modulate these odds.
Exposure to peanut antigen in dust within the first year of life was measured in a population-based birth cohort. Peanut sensitization and peanut allergy (defined by using oral food challenges or component-resolved diagnostics [CRD]) were assessed at 8 and 11 years. Genotyping was performed for 6 FLG mutations.
After adjustment for infantile atopic dermatitis and preceding egg skin prick test (SPT) sensitization, we found a strong and significant interaction between natural log (ln [loge]) peanut dust levels and FLG mutations on peanut sensitization and peanut allergy. Among children with FLG mutations, for each ln unit increase in the house dust peanut protein level, there was a more than 6-fold increased odds of peanut SPT sensitization, CRD sensitization, or both in children at ages 8 years, 11 years, or both and a greater than 3-fold increased odds of peanut allergy compared with odds seen in children with wild-type FLG. There was no significant effect of exposure in children without FLG mutations. In children carrying an FLG mutation, the threshold level for peanut SPT sensitization was 0.92 μg of peanut protein per gram (95% CI, 0.70-1.22 μg/g), that for CRD sensitization was 1.03 μg/g (95% CI, 0.90-1.82 μg/g), and that for peanut allergy was 1.17 μg/g (95% CI, 0.01-163.83 μg/g).
Early-life environmental peanut exposure is associated with an increased risk of peanut sensitization and allergy in children who carry an FLG mutation. These data support the hypothesis that peanut allergy develops through transcutaneous sensitization in children with an impaired skin barrier.
PMCID: PMC4188983  PMID: 25282568
FLG loss-of-function mutations; filaggrin; skin barrier; peanut sensitization; peanut allergy; environmental peanut exposure; dust; threshold; AD, Atopic dermatitis; CRD, Component-resolved diagnostics; FLG, Filaggrin; GEE, Penalized generalized estimating equations methodology; ISU, ISAC standardized unit; LLQ, Lower limit of quantitation; MAAS, Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study; OFC, Oral food challenge; OR, Odds ratio; sIgE, Allergen-specific IgE; SPT, Skin prick test
12.  Food allergy knowledge, perception of food allergy labeling, and level of dietary practice: A comparison between children with and without food allergy experience 
The prevalence of food allergies in Korean children aged 6 to 12 years increased from 10.9% in 1995 to 12.6% in 2012 according to nationwide population studies. Treatment for food allergies is avoidance of allergenic-related foods and epinephrine auto-injector (EPI) for accidental allergic reactions. This study compared knowledge and perception of food allergy labeling and dietary practices of students.
The study was conducted with the fourth to sixth grade students from an elementary school in Yongin. A total of 437 response rate (95%) questionnaires were collected and statistically analyzed.
The prevalence of food allergy among respondents was 19.7%, and the most common food allergy-related symptoms were urticaria, followed by itching, vomiting and nausea. Food allergens, other than 12 statutory food allergens, included cheese, cucumber, kiwi, melon, clam, green tea, walnut, grape, apricot and pineapple. Children with and without food allergy experience had a similar level of knowledge on food allergies. Children with food allergy experience thought that food allergy-related labeling on school menus was not clear or informative.
To understand food allergies and prevent allergic reactions to school foodservice among children, schools must provide more concrete and customized food allergy education.
PMCID: PMC4317486
Elementary students; food allergy; labeling; dietary practice
13.  Health-related quality of life, assessed with a disease-specific questionnaire, in Swedish adults suffering from well-diagnosed food allergy to staple foods 
Our aim was to investigate the factors that affect health related quality of life (HRQL) in adult Swedish food allergic patients objectively diagnosed with allergy to at least one of the staple foods cow’s milk, hen’s egg or wheat. The number of foods involved, the type and severity of symptoms, as well as concomitant allergic disorders were assessed.
The disease-specific food allergy quality of life questionnaire (FAQLQ-AF), developed within EuroPrevall, was utilized. The questionnaire had four domains: Allergen Avoidance and Dietary Restrictions (AADR), Emotional Impact (EI), Risk of Accidental Exposure (RAE) and Food Allergy related Health (FAH). Comparisons were made with the outcome of the generic questionnaire EuroQol Health Questionnaire, 5 Dimensions (EQ-5D). The patients were recruited at an outpatient allergy clinic, based on a convincing history of food allergy supplemented by analysis of specific IgE to the foods in question. Seventy-nine patients participated (28 males, 51 females, mean-age 41 years).
The domain with the most negative impact on HRQL was AADR, assessing the patients’ experience of dietary restrictions. The domain with the least negative impact on HRQL was FAH, relating to health concerns due to the food allergy. One third of the patients had four concomitant allergic disorders, which had a negative impact on HRQL. Furthermore, asthma in combination with food allergy had a strong impact. Anaphylaxis, and particularly prescription of an epinephrine auto-injector, was associated with low HRQL. These effects were not seen using EQ-5D. Analyses of the symptoms revealed that oral allergy syndrome and cardiovascular symptoms had the greatest impact on HRQL. In contrast, no significant effect on HRQL was seen by the number of food allergies.
The FAQLQ-AF is a valid instrument, and more accurate among patients with allergy to staple foods in comparison to the commonly used generic EQ-5D. It adds important information on HRQL in food allergic adults. We found that the restrictions imposed on the patients due to the diet had the largest negative impact on HRQL. Both severity of the food allergy and the presence of concomitant allergic disorders had a profound impact on HRQL.
PMCID: PMC3702411  PMID: 23816063
Food allergy; Adults; Health-related quality of life; Instrument; Questionnaire
14.  Role of E-selectin and platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1 in gastritis in food allergy patients 
The prevalence of food allergies and other allergic reactions is increasing worldwide, particularly in highly-urbanized populations. Cell adhesion molecules are expressed in response to various pro-inflammatory cytokines. The expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 – ICAM-1 (CD54), ICAM-1 (CD106), P-selectin (CD62P), and E-selectin (CD62E) on vascular endothelial cells is induced by such pro-inflammatory cytokines as tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 (IL-1).
To analyze concentrations of E-selectin and platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) in patients with an allergic type of food sensitivity co-existing with gastritis and to compare them to the values determined in individuals with dyspeptic symptoms not associated with allergic disorders.
Material and methods
The study included 80 patients, among them 50 individuals with food sensitivity confirmed based on compulsory standards, and 30 subjects with dyspeptic symptoms not accompanied by allergic conditions. Venous blood samples were taken from each patient and concentrations of E-selectin and PECAM-1 were determined by means of ELISA.
Mean concentrations of sE-selectin and sPECAM-1 in patients with food allergy amounted to 54.0 ±21.6 ng/ml and 132.8 ±31.4 ng/ml, respectively. In individuals without food allergy, mean concentrations of sE-selectin and sPECAM-1 were 57.7 ±17.9 ng/ml and 139.6 ±31.1 ng/ml, respectively. Patients with food allergy and individuals with dyspeptic symptoms not associated with food allergy did not differ significantly in terms of sE-selectin concentrations (Mann-Whitney U-test, p = 0.453028). Similarly, no significant intergroup differences were observed with regard to sPECAM-1 concentrations (Mann-Whitney U-test, p = 0.231054).
Adhesion molecules play an important role in the development of inflammation. This study did not find significant differences in the concentrations of such molecules as sE-selectin and sPECAM-1 between patients with food allergy and gastritis, and subjects in whom gastritis was not accompanied by atopic disorders. A positive correlation between the concentrations of sPECAM-1 and E-selectin was observed in food allergy patients. Consequently, it can be concluded that these molecules participate in the pathogenesis of the inflammatory process independently of the etiopathogenesis of gastritis.
PMCID: PMC3858653  PMID: 24353485
food allergy; gastritis; sPECAM-1; sE-selectin
15.  434 Frequency of Food-sensitization by Prick-to-Prick Test and Atopy Patch Test in Allergic Children 
Food-allergy is a substantial and evolving health issue. We evaluate the frequency of food sensitization by prick-to-prick and atopy patch test (APT) in allergic children in a tertiary pediatric care center.
Cross-sectional retrospective study of prick-to-prick and APT tests made in atopic children attending to the Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology outpatient clinic aged 6 months to 19 years. Patients were stratified in 4 groups according to age (<1, 1–5, 6–10 and >11 years), and by atopy-related diagnosis (asthma, rhinitis, food allergy, atopic dermatitis and eosinophilic gastroenteropathy).
Total of 170 prick-to-prick with fresh foods were made, 135 were positive with the next distribution: milk 28.8%, (95% CI, 21.3-36.3%), egg white 20.1% (95% CI, 13.5-26.8%), banana 19.4% (95% CI, 12.8-26%). Sensitization to milk was most common in children aged 1 to 5 years old with 26.9% (95% CI, 17.1-36.8%) compared with corn, nuts and peanuts P < 0.05. Sensitization to milk was the most frequent in the food allergy diagnosis group with 27.1% (95% CI,15.8-38.5%) compared with wheat, corn and peanuts P < 0.05.
A total of 140 APT tests were made, 105 were positive with the next distribution: soybeans 53.3% (95% CI,43.8-62.8%), peanut and chocolate both with 50.5% (95% CI,40.9-60,.0). This finding was sustained in patients with atopic dermatitis with soybean 55.6% (95% CI,36.8-74.3) compared to egg yolk. Sensitization to soybeans was most common in children aged 1 to 5 years old with 52.1% (95% CI,40.6-63.6) compared to rice and egg yolk P < 0.05. A different distribution was found for the 6 to 10 years old aged group: peanut 41.9% (95% CI,27.1-56.6) compared with egg yolk P < 0.05.
Milk is the most common food-allergen found by prick-to-prick in children independent of age or allergic diagnosis, with statistical significant difference, when compared to other food-allergens, in the group of food-allergy diagnosis and in the 1 to 5 years old age-group. Soybean is the most common food-allergen found in atopy patch test in the groups <1, 1 to 5 and >11 years old, independent of atopy related diagnosis, with statistical significant difference, when compared to other food-allergens in the group of atopic dermatitis and in the 1 to 5 years old age-group. For the 6 to 10 years old group peanut was the most common food-allergen found by APT, independent of atopy related diagnosis
PMCID: PMC3513170
16.  The impact of food allergy on asthma 
Food allergy is a potentially severe immune response to a food or food additive. Although a majority of children will outgrow their food allergies, some may have lifelong issues. Food allergies and other atopic conditions, such as asthma, are increasing in prevalence in Western countries. As such, it is not uncommon to note the co-existence of food allergy and asthma in the same patient. As part of the atopic march, many food allergic patients may develop asthma later in life. Each can adversely affect the other. Food allergic patients with asthma have a higher risk of developing life-threatening food-induced reactions. Although food allergy is not typically an etiology of asthma, an asthmatic patient with food allergy may have higher rates of morbidity and mortality associated with the asthma. Asthma is rarely a manifestation of food allergy alone, but the symptoms can be seen with allergic reactions to foods. There may be evidence to suggest that early childhood environmental factors, such as the mother’s and child’s diets, factor in the development of asthma; however, the evidence continues to be conflicting. All food allergic patients and their families should be counseled on the management of food allergy and the risk of developing co-morbid asthma.
PMCID: PMC3047906  PMID: 21437041
food allergy; diagnosis; treatment; asthma
17.  Intestinal Permeability in Children with Food Allergy on Specific Elimination Diets 
Children with food allergy have been shown to have increased small intestinal permeability (IP) following ingestion of the offending food as well as during elimination diets. We investigated IP in asymptomatic food-allergic children during an elimination diet to identify clinical characteristics associated with altered IP.
Urinary recovery ratios of lactulose and mannitol (L/M) were determined five hours following ingestion of 7.5 g of lactulose and 2 g of mannitol in 131 cow’s milk- and egg-allergic children. An L/M ratio of ≥0.025 was considered abnormal based upon previously established laboratory internal references. A chart review was conducted to assess the clinical characteristics of these patients.
A total of 50 (38%) of the 131 children (median 6.7, range 4.8 – 8.9 years); 66.2% male) with food allergy had elevated IP while asymptomatic on strict elimination diets. Age and height negatively correlated with IP. However, in the regression model analysis, abnormal IP was associated with shorter stature independently of age. Otherwise, food allergic patients with increased IP were comparable in gender, nutritional status, age of onset of food allergy, history of reactions, atopic diseases and family history of food allergies to those with normal IP.
Elevated IP was found in about one-third of asymptomatic food-allergic children on elimination diets and was associated with shorter stature. Our results suggest that increased IP may be an intrinsic trait in a subset of food allergic children. However, large, prospective studies are necessary to determine the role of impaired intestinal barrier in food allergy.
PMCID: PMC3774110  PMID: 23909601
food allergy (hypersensitivity); egg allergy; CM allergy; intestinal permeability; lactulose/mannitol ratio
18.  Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States 
Food allergy is an important public health problem that affects children and adults and may be increasing in prevalence. Despite the risk of severe allergic reactions and even death, there is no current treatment for food allergy: the disease can only be managed by allergen avoidance or treatment of symptoms. The diagnosis and management of food allergy also may vary from one clinical practice setting to another. Finally, because patients frequently confuse nonallergic food reactions, such as food intolerance, with food allergies, there is an unfounded belief among the public that food allergy prevalence is higher than it truly is. In response to these concerns, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, working with 34 professional organizations, federal agencies, and patient advocacy groups, led the development of clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy. These Guidelines are intended for use by a wide variety of health care professionals, including family practice physicians, clinical specialists, and nurse practitioners. The Guidelines include a consensus definition for food allergy, discuss comorbid conditions often associated with food allergy, and focus on both IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated reactions to food. Topics addressed include the epidemiology, natural history, diagnosis, and management of food allergy, as well as the management of severe symptoms and anaphylaxis. These Guidelines provide 43 concise clinical recommendations and additional guidance on points of current controversy in patient management. They also identify gaps in the current scientific knowledge to be addressed through future research.
PMCID: PMC4241964  PMID: 21134576
food; allergy; anaphylaxis; diagnosis; disease management; guidelines
19.  Season of birth as predictor of atopic manifestations 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1997;76(4):341-344.
Accepted 8 November 1996

The relation between month of birth, sensitisation, and manifestations of atopy was assessed in 209 children who were followed from birth to 12-15 years. Children born during the tree pollen season were less likely to develop allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, IgE antibodies to pollen, or a positive screening test for IgE antibodies (odds ratio 0.28, 0.41, 0.35, respectively) than children born during the rest of the year. The prevalence of IgE antibodies to food and animal dander at 9 months and to atopic disease was higher in children born in the autumn and winter, that is, September to February, compared to the spring and summer (egg 20% v 6%; milk 10% v 2%). Thus sensitisation to pollen and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is least common in children born in the spring, while birth in September to February is associated with an increased incidence of sensitisation to food and of atopic disease.

PMCID: PMC1717161  PMID: 9166028
20.  The prevalence and risk factors of allergic and respiratory symptoms in a regional cohort of extremely low birth weight children (<1000 g) 
Children who were <1000 g (ELBW extremely low birth weight) at birth more frequently present with wheezing which is the most common reason that pediatric consultation is sought. Therefore asthma is diagnosed very often. However is the asthma that is diagnosed in ELBW subjects atopic in origin, or is there a different etiology?
To determine if ELBW infants are at higher risk for the development of allergic and respiratory symptoms and to establish if there were any specific risk factors for these symptoms.
81 children born with a mean birthweight of 845 g (91% of available cohort) were evaluated at the mean age 6.7 years. The control group included 40 full-term children. The children were examined for clinical signs of allergy, and were subjected to the following tests: serum total IgE, skin prick tests (SPT), exhaled nitric oxide measurement (FeNO) and spirometry.
ELBW children had wheezing episodes more often (64% vs. 25%; OR (odds ratio): 5.38; 95% CI (confidence interval): 2.14-13.8) and were diagnosed more frequently with asthma (32% vs. 7.5%; OR: 5.83, 95% CI: 1.52-26) than their term born peers. The most important risk factors for wheezing persistence were hospitalization and wheezing episodes in first 24 months of life. Mean serum tIgE level (geometric mean: 32+/−4 vs. 56+/−4 kU/L; p=0.002) was higher and the number of children with positive results of tIgE level (12% vs. 32%; p=0.02) were more frequent in the control group. Children from the control group also more frequently had SPT, however this data was not statistically significant (11% vs. 24%; p=0.09). All of the ELBW had normal FeNO level (<=20 ppb), but 5 children from the control group had abnormal results (p=0.02). There was no difference between the groups in the occurrence of allergic symptoms.
ELBW children have more frequent respiratory, but not allergic problems at the age of 6–7 years compared to children born at term. The need for rehospitalization in the first 2 years of life, was a more important risk factor of future respiratory problems at the age of 7 than perinatal factors, the diagnosis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia or allergy.
PMCID: PMC3567980  PMID: 23332103
Prematurity; Follow-up; Spirometry; IgE; FeNO; Skin prick tests
21.  Early Life Eczema, Food Introduction, and Risk of Food Allergy in Children 
The effect of food introduction timing on the development of food allergy remains controversial. We sought to examine whether the presence of childhood eczema changes the relationship between timing of food introduction and food allergy. The analysis includes 960 children recruited as part of a family-based food allergy cohort. Food allergy was determined by objective symptoms developing within 2 hours of ingestion, corroborated by skin prick testing/specific IgE. Physician diagnosis of eczema and timing of formula and solid food introduction were obtained by standardized interview. Cox Regression analysis provided hazard ratios for the development of food allergy for the same subgroups. Logistic regression models estimated the association of eczema and formula/food introduction with the risk of food allergy, individually and jointly. Of the 960 children, 411 (42.8%) were allergic to 1 or more foods and 391 (40.7%) had eczema. Children with eczema had a 8.4-fold higher risk of food allergy (OR, 95% CI: 8.4, 5.9–12.1). Among all children, later (>6 months) formula and rice/wheat cereal introduction lowered the risk of food allergy. In joint analysis, children without eczema who had later formula (OR, 95% CI: 0.5, 0.3–0.9) and later (>1 year) solid food (OR, 95% CI: 0.5, 0.3–0.95) introduction had a lower risk of food allergy. Among children with eczema, timing of food or formula introduction did not modify the risk of developing food allergy. Later food introduction was protective for food allergy in children without eczema but did not alter the risk of developing food allergy in children with eczema.
PMCID: PMC3281290  PMID: 22375277
22.  Indoor fungal concentration in the homes of allergic/asthmatic children in Delhi, India 
Allergy & Rhinology  2011;2(1):21-32.
Allergy to fungi has been linked to a wide range of illnesses, including rhinitis and asthma. Therefore, exposure to fungi in home environment is an important factor for fungal allergy. The present study was aimed to investigate types of airborne fungi inside and outside the homes of asthmatic children and control subjects (nonasthmatic children). The dominant fungi were evaluated for their quantitative distribution and seasonal variation. The air samples were collected from indoors and immediate outdoors of 77 selected homes of children suffering from bronchial asthma/allergic rhinitis using Andersen volumetric air sampler. The isolated fungal genera/species were identified using reference literature, and statistical analysis of the dominant fungi was performed to study the difference in fungal concentration between indoor and immediate outdoor sites as well as in between different seasons. A total of 4423 air samples were collected from two indoor and immediate outdoor sites in a 1-year survey of 77 homes. This resulted in the isolation of an average of 110,091 and 107,070 fungal colonies per metric cube of air from indoor and outdoor sites, respectively. A total of 68 different molds were identified. Different species of Aspergillus, Alternaria, Cladosporium, and Penicillium were found to be the most prevalent fungi in Delhi homes, which constituted 88.6% of the total colonies indoors. Highest concentration was registered in autumn and winter months. Total as well as dominant fungi displayed statistically significant differences among the four seasons (p < 0.001). The largest number of isolations were the species of Aspergillus (>40% to total colony-forming units in indoors as well as outdoors) followed by Cladosporium spp. Annual concentration of Aspergillus spp. was significantly higher (p < 0.05) inside the homes when compared with outdoors. Most of the fungi also occurred at a significantly higher (p < 0.001) rate inside the homes when compared with immediate outdoors. Asthmatic children in Delhi are exposed to a substantial concentration of mold inside their homes as well as immediate outdoor air. The considerable seasonal distributions of fungi provide valuable data for investigation of the role of fungal exposure as a risk for respiratory disorders among patients suffering from allergy or asthma in Delhi.
PMCID: PMC3390125  PMID: 22852111
Asthma; Delhi; indoor fungi; prevalence; respiratory allergy; seasonal variation
23.  Peanut allergy in relation to heredity, maternal diet, and other atopic diseases: results of a questionnaire survey, skin prick testing, and food challenges. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;313(7056):518-521.
OBJECTIVES: To determine rates of other atopic manifestations in people with peanut allergy and the prevalence of such allergy in their families. DESIGN: A survey of people with self reported peanut allergy and people referred by their general practitioner for suspected peanut allergy; survey and skin testing of 50 children with reported peanut allergy and their available first degree relatives. SUBJECTS: 622 adults and children with reported, suspected, or known peanut allergy. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalence of peanut allergy and other allergies in the families of people with peanut allergy. RESULTS: 622 valid completed questionnaires were returned out of the 833 questionnaires dispatched (74.7%). All forms of atopy were both more common in successive generations (P < 0.0001) and more common in maternal than paternal relatives (P < 0.0001). Peanut allergy was reported by 0.1% (3/2409) of grandparents, 0.6% (7/1213) of aunts and uncles, 1.6% (19/1218) of parents, and 6.9% (42/610) of siblings. Consumption of peanuts while pregnant or breast feeding was more common among mothers of probands aged < or = 5 years than mothers of probands aged > 5 years (P < 0.001). Age of onset correlated inversely with year of birth (r = -0.6, P < 0.001). Skin prick testing of 50 children with reported peanut allergy and their families: 7 probands (14%) had a negative result for peanut. Peanut allergy was refuted by food challenge in all those tested (5/7). No parent and 13% (5/39) of siblings had a positive result on skin prick testing for peanut. Two of these siblings had negative challenge with peanuts. The prevalence of peanut allergy in siblings is therefore 3/39 (7%). CONCLUSIONS: Peanut allergy is more common in siblings of people with peanut allergy than in the parents or the general population. Its apparently increasing prevalence may reflect a general increase of atopy, which is inherited more commonly from the mother. Peanut allergy is presenting earlier in life, possibly reflecting increased consumption of peanut by pregnant and nursing mothers.
PMCID: PMC2351952  PMID: 8789975
24.  No effect of season of birth on risk of type 1 diabetes, cancer, schizophrenia and ischemic heart disease, while some variations may be seen for pneumonia and multiple sclerosis 
Dermato-endocrinology  2013;5(2):309-316.
Background: The risk of type 1 diabetes (T1DM), infections, cancer, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis (MS) has been associated with environmental factors including vitamin D status.
Materials and Methods: Data were obtained from all children born in Denmark in 1940 (n = 72,839), 1977 (n = 89,570), and 1996 (n = 74,015). Information on contacts to hospitals (1977–2009) was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Register. The main exposure variable was season of birth as a proxy variable for vitamin D status (summer: April–September and winter: October–March).
Results: No associations between season of birth and risk of MS were seen in the 1940 cohort or the 1996 cohort. In the 1977 cohort, there was a borderline statistically significant decreased risk of MS in those born during wintertime compared with those born during summertime (HR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.47–1.04, p = 0.07). There were no significant differences within the groups regarding season and risk of T1DM at any age, T1DM before 10 y, infection, any type of cancer, schizophrenia and myocardial infarction. In the 1977 cohort the risk of pneumonia was significantly lower among those born in the summer compared with the winter at any age (HR 0.91, 95% CI 0.85–0.97, p < 0.01) and at age < 10 y (HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.84–0.97, p < 0.01).
Conclusion: MS and pneumonia in young subjects may be related to season of birth and thus maternal vitamin D exposure. Low sunlight exposure in the winter time leading to low vitamin D levels during pregnancy may be a potential explanation.
PMCID: PMC3772919  PMID: 24194971
Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis; type 1 Diabetes; cancer; schizophrenia; pneumonia; myocardial infarction
25.  Probiotics in the Treatment and Prevention of Allergy in Children 
Several fold increase in allergic diseases in developed, high-income countries during recent decades is attributed to environmental changes such as urbanization with improved hygiene. This, together with conquering severe bacterial infections during childhood, has reduced the microbial stimulation of the developing immune system of infants. Studies on the pathogenesis of allergy both in man and experimental animal have shown the importance of commensal bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract in stimulating and directing the immune system. The interest in modulating commensal bacterial flora with probiotics to prevent and treat allergy has multiplied in recent years.
In the present review we report results on randomized, controlled studies in which childhood atopic eczema was treated or which aimed to prevent development of allergy during childhood.
Nine studies with 639 patients have looked at the effect of probiotics in treatment of eczema. While 3 studied showed no effect, other studies suggested a moderate benefit of the use of probiotics on the severity of eczema. Studies suggested that the effect may be seen particularly in patients with food allergy and/or sensitization.
Nine studies have reported on the prevention of allergy on 6 study population with altogether 1989 high risk infants. While the early study reporting the development of allergy at ages 2, 4 and 7 years showed a marked reduction of eczema in 77 treated infants, later studies have failed to show similar success. Two studies showed no effect. In the largest study with more than 900 children at age 2 atopic eczema was reduced by 20%, but at age 5 positive effect was present in only the subgroup of children who had born by cesarean section. None of studies has reported adverse effects of probiotics in infants.
Result in both treatment and prevention studies are quite variable, the major reason being the use of different strains of probiotic bacteria and varying types of intervention. Even if the results are encouraging, we need a stronger effect. This may be reached by finding new strains of probiotics affecting stronger stimulation of immune system, together with longer lasting and varying treatment schedules. However, safety issues have to be observed.
PMCID: PMC3651021  PMID: 23283013
probiotics; prevention of allergic diseases; treatment of allergic diseases; atopic eczema

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