This research project will investigate maternal exposure to dietary egg and milk during pregnancy and lactation and its role in the immune outcome of infants.
<p>This project proposes to build on results obtained from previous and current FSA-funded projects, to investigate the role of exposure (dose and route) of offspring at genetic risk of atopy to allergen during fetal development and/or breastfeeding in the development of food allergy.
<p>Furthermore, by using a combination of exposure data and measurement of immunological responsiveness at birth, this project will determine if it is possible to predict (i) children who will not develop food allergy, (ii) children who will develop transient food allergy, and (iii) children who will develop persistent allergy. As such, future therapeutic (including dietary) intervention can be designed to modify the outcome.
There has been a five-fold increase in the general prevalence of IgE-mediated allergic diseases in developed countries such as the UK over the last 30 years and numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain this. Food allergies are frequently the first manifestation of atopic disease and affect 6-8% of infants in the first three years of life.
<p>Much evidence points to early life as a critical time during which exposure to allergens and programming of immunologic development and function occurs, followed only months or even years later by the onset of disease.
<p>The risk factors associated with the development of an allergic response to food allergens in infancy have not been identified and the mechanisms underlying resolution of allergy are not understood. Why some infants have transient disease while others suffer persistent food allergy and even go onto develop aeroallergen sensitive hayfever/asthma remains unknown.
<p>The impact of allergen dose and route of exposure during fetal life and early infancy on the development of allergy is unresolved. Data from a previous FSA-funded study, T07005, indicate that either high or low levels of exposure to ovalbumin ante-natally (determined by maternal specific IgG levels) are associated with a non-atopic phenotype of the infant.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.