If you’re managing food allergies, you know that there are immediate consequences to accidentally eating your allergen. But you may have wondered: are there are any long term consequences to ingesting a known allergen? A study of 512 infants at multiple U.S. sites, published this month in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, sought to determine whether one-time exposures to allergens are associated with increased sensitization.
There are two main ways you can be exposed to one of your allergens: by accidentally coming into contact or by participating in an oral food challenge for clinical or research purposes. This new study examined the risk of these exposures to determine whether they resulted in increased skin prick test wheal size or allergen-specific IgE levels.
The study may shed light on commonly-asked questions from parents regarding the safety of oral food challenges, such as “If I have a reaction during an oral food challenge, will it make me less likely to outgrow the allergy?”
This study of more than 500 infants in the Consortium for Food Allergy Research observational study found that reactions from oral food challenges and accidental exposure were not associated with increases in sensitization among children allergic to milk, egg or peanut. The risk of reaction following the exposure was the same as it was prior to the exposure. Of note, the types of exposures studied in these findings were single events, rather than persistent exposures that could potentially increase specific IgE levels.
“We believe that that data presented here support the notion that occasional oral food challenge exposures, whether through accidents or planned food challenges, do not lead to enhanced sensitization that would delay resolution or otherwise worsen the long-term prognosis,” the authors write. “If confirmed by other well-designed studies, these findings should provide a measure of comfort to both physicians and families as they deal with the aftermath of allergic reactions following food challenges or accidental exposures.”
This study was supported primarily by the National Institute of Health (NIH) – National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. For more food allergy research, visit FARE’s website.