Studies have previously documented an association between food allergy and eczema. In a new study published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on Nov. 18, researchers sought to determine whether environmental peanut exposure (peanut in household dust) is a risk for peanut sensitization and allergy, and whether having eczema in early childhood affected the level of risk.
Teams of researchers at five Consortium for Food Allergy Research (CoFAR) centers in the U.S. and King’s College in London concluded that exposure to peanut proteins in household dust may be a trigger of peanut allergy.
The study was conducted in 359 children aged 3-15 months who were at high risk of developing a peanut allergy because they were allergic to milk or egg or had moderate to severe eczema and had tested positive for an allergy to milk or egg. The study found that an increased environmental exposure to peanut protein was associated with an increased risk of sensitization and likely allergy to peanut in atopic children. The authors also found that the effect of peanut dust exposure on peanut sensitization was augmented in children with a history of and increasing severity of eczema. The amount of peanut proteins in the environment was measured by vacuuming dust from the living room, then measuring peanut in the dust. Investigators noted that it is too early to make recommendations based on the study’s results and that more research is needed.
“We need to see if early interventions, such as earlier food consumption, improving the damaged skin barrier, or reducing household exposure will counter the development of the allergy,” said Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., a lead investigator for the study. Sicherer is the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Professor of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, one of the CoFAR centers, and a member of FARE’s Medical Advisory Board.
The implications of this early study are not yet clear. For information on food allergy research, please visit www.foodallergy.org/research.