Australian researchers have confirmed a genetic link between allergies and eczema, and are closer to understanding the role of the skin in rising food allergy rates.
The study involved DNA samples taken from 700 infants to investigate changes in a gene linked to eczema and the resulting risk of developing food allergies by the age of one year. The research shows that infants with a genetic predisposition to the skin condition eczema may be at risk of developing food allergies. The research team also found that consuming the potential allergen may protect babies from developing the allergy.
The researchers found that babies with changes in the gene in question, known as filaggrin, were more likely to have positive skin prick tests for food allergens. However, they did not necessarily go on to develop true food allergies, suggesting that environmental factors could affect the risk of food allergies.
What The Findings Mean
Study leader Professor Katie Allen of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne said that the study results suggest both genetic and environmental factors playing a role in the development of food allergies during childhood.
The findings have been published in the , and form part of a wider study led by Professor Allen to investigate food allergy prevalence and potential causes.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Source: The Australian News