Low Peanut Exposure May Protect Atopic Children

Exposure increases sensitization but low levels may be protective for some children

TUESDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Although exposure to peanut during infancy promotes sensitization, low levels may help protect atopic children, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Miami Beach.

Adam T. Fox, M.D., of Imperial College in London, and colleagues administered a retrospective questionnaire to the parents of children with suspected allergy and age-matched controls. The questionnaire included questions about maternal peanut consumption during pregnancy and breast-feeding and also assessed household peanut consumption. The researchers compared exposure levels in three groups of age-matched children: children with peanut allergy, children with egg allergy who were not peanut-sensitized, and non-allergic children.

The researchers found that median weekly household peanut consumption in the 126 peanut-allergic cases was 77.2 grams compared to 29.1 grams in the 150 normal controls and only 8.1 grams in the 160 egg-allergic controls. After adjusting for other dietary factors, they also found that maternal peanut consumption during pregnancy and lactation became non-significant.

"Our data suggest that exposure to environmental peanut during infancy promotes sensitization and that low levels may be protective in atopic children," the authors conclude. "No special effect of maternal consumption during pregnancy or lactation is observed. This supports the hypothesis that peanut sensitization occurs as a result of environmental exposure."

Abstract

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