Sunday 25 September 2016

Babies’ skin can give clues to food allergies

Published 08/03/2016 | 02:30

Newborn babies’ skin may be able give clues about food allergies they will suffer in the future. Thinkstock Images
Newborn babies’ skin may be able give clues about food allergies they will suffer in the future. Thinkstock Images

Newborn babies’ skin may be able give clues about food allergies they will suffer in the future, new Irish research has found.

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A weakness in the baby’s skin barrier may also enable doctors to predict whether they will suffer from other allergic conditions such as asthma.

The research from paediatricians in Cork University Maternity Hospital confirms that food allergies are associated with skin barrier defects, even in children who do not suffer from eczema.

This should help in the design of clinical trials than can help prevent and treat allergies.

Prof Jonathan Hourihane, head of the department of paediatrics and child health in University College Cork, said: “We used simple, non-invasive measurements to support and extend previous human and mouse studies.

“We have confirmed that food allergies are associated with skin barrier defects.

“This is even in children who do not get eczema and this link can be found even before the newborn baby leaves the maternity hospital.

“We think this research has great potential.”

He added: “It not only grants us a platform to comprehend how allergies may start, but should allow us to design and develop further studies and clinical trials in the years ahead which will help us understand how to prevent allergies – right from day one.”

The findings, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, offer hope that the onset of lifelong allergic conditions – which has reached epidemic proportions – can be tackled by early preventative strategies.

Of the 1,903 Irish newborns involved in the study, which also included the UK Food

Standards Agency, it was found 1,260 had food allergy assessment and tests at two years of age.

Food allergy was proven in 56 children.

Newborns with allergic parents whose neonatal trans-

epidermal water loss was in the top 25pc of readings were 18 times more likely to have food allergy at two years children in the lowest 25pc.

Peanuts are the leading cause of food-related anaphylaxis, triggering a life-threatening reaction.

Others include various types of nuts, milk, fish, seafood, eggs and some fruit.

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