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The effect of exposure to food proteins via maternal sources
Project Code: T07005
Allergy and Inflammation Sciences, University of Southampton.
The prevalence of all allergic diseases has increased considerably in the last 30-40 years leading to major adverse effects on quality of life and the health economy of the country. Food allergic problems have increased at a similar rate to that of all other allergic disorders(1). Amongst the food allergies egg is the most common in infancy. It is also very strongly associated with the later development of inhalant allergies, allergic asthma and rhinitis(2).
Much effort is directed towards identifying early intervention preventive strategies, amongst which the most obvious has been allergen avoidance. Hitherto the majority of food allergen avoidance studies have been introduced immediately after birth with very variable outcomes. There is perhaps a small effect in reducing food allergy and atopic eczema in the first year or two of life but little if any impact on later allergic disease(3). A few studies have initiated allergen avoidance in the latter stages of pregnancy but this has not appreciably changed outcomes(4). However, we have shown that immunological priming to allergens can occur as early as 22 weeks gestation(5). Thus if allergen avoidance is to be effective, it must be introduced before this time point.
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