This commonly known causality dilemma is one of the most fundamental philosophic questions evoking investigations about the beginnings of life and the universe in general since ancient times. So I found it quite interesting that latest research seemed to have found the solution to another, not so much philosophical but more immunological, interrogation:
“Which came first, eczema or food allergy”?
Or, in other words, is eczema the result or the cause of food allergy in infants?
Carsten Flohr, Gideon Lack et al. from King’s College London published their findings this July Journal of Investigative Dermatology .
To find out what causes food sensitization in young infants, they tested more than 600 three month old babies which were breastfed exclusively. The focus of examination was
– existence of atopic dermatitis (‘exzema’)
– severity of atopic dermatitis
– location of atopic dermatitis (flexural vs non-flexural)
– skin gene mutation, known as ‘Filaggrin loss of function’
– skin prick test (cow’s milk, egg, cod, wheat, sesame, and peanut)
Interestingly enough, children with eczema were significantly more likely to be sensitized (adjusted OR=6.18 (95% CI 2.94–12.98, P<0.001) regardless of the other examined factors as Fillagrin mutation and type of eczema. The severer the eczema, the more likely a child was to show a positive skin prick test.
This study shows quite nicely that in non-orally (exclusively breastfed) sensitized infants, atopic dermatitis is a major risk factor for food sensitization. It could mean that the skin and its immune structures (antigen presenting cells) lead to sensitization when affected by eczema.
Interestingly, this study is align with other findings of the group from King’s College London (Dr. H. Brough) which proved dust containing active peanut particles in the home of early sensitized infants.
To sum it up, London research strongly suggests that eczema is one of the key factors to develop a sensitization to foods in early life.
As always, this article does by no means professional advice. Please always consult with your health professional.