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1.  Skin prick test to foods in childhood atopic eczema: pros and cons 
Skin prick tests are the first investigation in allergy diagnostics and their use is described in all the guidelines on atopic eczema. However, the clinical usefulness of skin prick tests is the subject of great debate. On the one hand, skin prick tests allow the identification both of individuals at risk for food allergy and of the allergen inducing the eczematous flare. On the other hand, when performed by a non-specific specialist, positive skin prick tests to foods may wrongly lead to prolonged elimination diets, which may induce nutritional deficiencies and perhaps loss of tolerance to the avoided foods. Furthermore, skin prick tests increase health costs. A consensus on this topic has not yet been reached. Considering the diversity of clinical stages in which it occurs, atopic eczema presentation should be the starting point to determine whether or not skin prick tests should be carried out.
doi:10.1186/1824-7288-39-48
PMCID: PMC3734168  PMID: 23902622
Atopic dermatitis; Atopic eczema; Skin prick test; Food allergy
2.  End point prick test: could this new test be used to predict the outcome of oral food challenge in children with cow's milk allergy? 
Background
Cow's milk allergy (CMA) is the most frequent food allergy in childhood; the trend of CMA is often characterized by a progressive improvement to achieve tolerance in the first 4 to 5 years of life.
It has been observed that specific IgE (sIgE) towards cow's milk proteins decrease when the age increases.
Although food allergy can be easily diagnosed, it is difficult to predict the outcome of the oral food challenge (OFC), that remains the gold standard in the diagnosis of food allergy, by allergometric tests.
Methods
We considered 44 children with CMA diagnosed through OFC who returned to our Allergy and Immunology Pediatric Department between January to December 2010 to evaluate the persistence of allergy or the achievement of tolerance.
On the basis of the history, we performed both allergometric skin tests and OFC in children that were still following a milk-free diet, whereas only allergometric skin tests those that had already undergone spontaneous introduction of milk protein at home without presenting symptoms.
Objective
The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the persistence of CMA or the acquisition of tolerance and the results of the end point prick test (EPT).
Results and Discussion
The OFC with cow's milk was performed on 30 children, 4 children were excluded because of a history of severe reactions to cow's milk, and 10 because they had spontaneously already taken milk food derivates at home without problems. 16/30 (53%) children showed clinical reactions and the challenge was stopped, 14/30 (47%) did not have any reaction.
Comparing the mean wheal diameter of every EPT's dilution between the group of allergic children and the tolerant ones, we obtained a significant difference (p < 0.05) for the first 4 dilutions.
We have also calculated sensitivity (SE), specificity (SP), the positive predictive value (PPV) and the negative predictive value (NPV) for each EPT dilution.
Conclusions
EPT is a safe and cheap test, easy to be executed and that could provide good prediction of the outcome of OFC; so it might be used to avoid OFC-induced anaphylaxis in children affected by CMA. It can also help avoiding dietetic restrictions in tolerant children who show sensitization towards cow's milk proteins.
doi:10.1186/1824-7288-37-52
PMCID: PMC3220633  PMID: 22053846
Cow's milk proteins allergy; end point prick test; food oral challenge; tolerance
3.  Pooled Genome-Wide Analysis to Identify Novel Risk Loci for Pediatric Allergic Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16912.
Background
Genome-wide association studies of pooled DNA samples were shown to be a valuable tool to identify candidate SNPs associated to a phenotype. No such study was up to now applied to childhood allergic asthma, even if the very high complexity of asthma genetics is an appropriate field to explore the potential of pooled GWAS approach.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We performed a pooled GWAS and individual genotyping in 269 children with allergic respiratory diseases comparing allergic children with and without asthma. We used a modular approach to identify the most significant loci associated with asthma by combining silhouette statistics and physical distance method with cluster-adapted thresholding. We found 97% concordance between pooled GWAS and individual genotyping, with 36 out of 37 top-scoring SNPs significant at individual genotyping level. The most significant SNP is located inside the coding sequence of C5, an already identified asthma susceptibility gene, while the other loci regulate functions that are relevant to bronchial physiopathology, as immune- or inflammation-mediated mechanisms and airway smooth muscle contraction. Integration with gene expression data showed that almost half of the putative susceptibility genes are differentially expressed in experimental asthma mouse models.
Conclusion/Significance
Combined silhouette statistics and cluster-adapted physical distance threshold analysis of pooled GWAS data is an efficient method to identify candidate SNP associated to asthma development in an allergic pediatric population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016912
PMCID: PMC3040188  PMID: 21359210
4.  Does improvement management of atopic dermatitis influence the appearance of respiratory allergic diseases? A follow-up study 
Background
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is often the prelude to allergic diseases. The aim of this study was 1) to evaluate if an integrated management regime could bring about a change in the evolution of the disease in comparison to the results of a previous study; 2) to determine whether the refinement of allergic investigations allowed to identify more promptly the risk factors of evolution into respiratory allergic diseases.
Methods
The study included 176 children affected by AD and previously evaluated between 1993 and 2002 at the age of 9-16 months, who underwent a telephonic interview by means of a semi-structured, pre-formed questionnaire after a mean follow-up time of 8 years. According to the SCORAD, at first evaluation children had mild AD in 23% of cases, moderate in 62%, severe in 15%.
Results
AD disappeared in 92 cases (52%), asthma appeared in 30 (17%) and rhinoconjunctivitis in 48 (27%). The factors significantly related to the appearance of asthma were: sensitization to food allergens with sIgE > 2 KU/L (cow's milk and hen's egg; P < 0.05); to inhalant allergens with sIgE > 0.35 KU/L (P < 0.05). Logistic regression analysis showed that inhalant sensitization was positively related to the occurrence of asthma (OR = 4.219). While AD showed similar rates of disappearance to those of our previous study, the incidence of asthma was reduced, at the same follow-up time, from 29% to 15% (P = 0.002), and the incidence of rhinoconjunctivitis from 35% to 24% (P = 0.02).
Conclusion
Comparing the results with those of the previous study, integrated management of AD does not seem to influence its natural course. Nevertheless, the decrease in the percentage of children evolving towards respiratory allergic disease stresses the importance of early diagnosis and improvement management carried out by specialist centers. The presence of allergic sensitization at one year of age might predict the development of respiratory allergy.
doi:10.1186/1476-7961-8-8
PMCID: PMC2907296  PMID: 20591145
5.  Use of the Italian version of the Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire in the daily practice: results of a prospective study 
BMC Pediatrics  2009;9:30.
Background
Asthma is a serious global health problem and its prevalence is increasing, especially among children. It represents a significant social and economic burden, and it can severely affect the health-related quality of life (HRQL) of patients. Among the numerous questionnaires aiming at evaluating asthma HRQL in children, the Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (PAQLQ) has proved to have good measurement properties.
The present study was aimed at investigating the possible role of the Italian, self-administered version of the PAQLQ in the routine clinical evaluation of children affected by bronchial asthma.
Methods
52 Italian children and adolescents (40 males and 12 females), aged 6 to 17 years, affected by allergic asthma, were enrolled. Each patient was evaluated twice, and at each visit asthma control and severity were assessed, spirometry was performed and the patients completed the self-administered version of the PAQLQ.
Results
The questionnaire was well-accepted and understood by the children. Children showed an overall good quality of life, with mild impairment in the activity and emotional function domains. The PAQLQ showed an overall good correlation with the clinical and functional indexes that are normally evaluated in follow-up visits of asthmatic patients. The PAQLQ appeared to be strongly related to asthma control, both at the first (p < 0.01) and second (p < 0.001) time of the study. The PAQLQ was also seen to decrease with increasing asthma severity. The results suggest a better compliance of the children towards completion of the questionnaire at t1. Finally, the PAQLQ does not appear to discriminate HRQL in patients with good lung function.
Conclusion
The Italian version of the PAQLQ is a quick-to-administer aid to clinical activity and can add valuable information to symptom reports, objective measurements and clinical assessment of asthma control and severity in daily clinical practice. Re-administration at each follow-up visit allows HRQL to be monitored over time.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-30
PMCID: PMC2685371  PMID: 19422700

Results 1-5 (5)