Does the resolution of vitamin D deficiency in food allergic infants predict the resolution of food allergy?

Rachel Peters

Dr Rachel Peters

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI)

Food allergy is a significant public health concern following a dramatic increase in prevalence over the last two decades, and adolescents and young adults are at greatest risk of severe and potentially fatal allergic reactions. There are no treatments to cure food allergy available in Australia. Fortunately, some food allergy will resolve naturally in childhood, however it is not known why some food allergies persist into adolescence and beyond. Identifying predictors of resolution is urgently needed to inform clinical practice and the development of new treatments.

A growing body of research demonstrates that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of food allergy, likely due to its role in shaping the developing immune system. Preliminary evidence shows that egg allergic infants whose vitamin D deficiency resolves, are more likely to outgrow egg allergy by 2-years-of-age. It is not known if this association also applies to older children or peanut allergy, which is more likely to be persistent. This project will assess whether resolution of vitamin D deficiency in food allergic children is associated with the resolution of food allergy.

The HealthNuts study is a population-based, longitudinal food allergy study in Melbourne, Australia which recruited 5300 infants at 12 months-of-age. Children with food allergy at age 1 have undergone repeat food challenges at ages 4-10 years to test for the development of food tolerance. Blood samples were collected from children who underwent food challenges and these will be measured for vitamin D levels to assess whether resolution of vitamin D deficiency is associated with the resolution of food allergy. These findings will have important implications for informing our understanding of the natural acquisition of food tolerance.

Dr Peters has been awarded the 2019 AIFA Food Allergy Clinical Research Grant $10,000 (supported by DBV Technologies) and works at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

Content created September 2019

©2019 Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia