Background: Atopic disease is an increasing problem. Eczema affects 10-20% of young children, and 33-37% of children with eczema are food allergic. Among other factors, nitric oxide (NO) is thought to play a role in eczema and food allergy. Following the atopic march, pproximately 80% of children with atopic eczema will become sensitized to aeroallergens and develop asthma and/or allergic rhinitis. Skin prick test is used for investigating sensitization and is considered a safe method. However, systemic allergic reactions may appear when the test is performed. In diagnosing food allergy and for evaluating achievement of tolerance, the oral food challenge is the method of choice, and the double-blind placebocontrolled fashion is 'the gold standard'.
Skin prick test: We examined six cases of generalized allergic reactions in connection with skin prick testing in order to identify risk factors, and thereby increase safety, and we investigated the necessity of performing skin prick tests in duplicate. We found that all six children with generalized reactions were <6 months of age. When analyzing skin prick tests in duplicate, we found only 1.3% that showed diverging results, and in infants <6 months even fewer, 0.9%.
Food challenge: We developed recipes and a protocol for low-dose oral food challenge to milk and egg to be used in young children outgrowing their food allergy so as to facilitate early re-/introduction of small amounts of milk and egg. We performed 52 challenges, both open and double-blind placebo controlled. The recipes were validated for blinding. The lowdose challenge was tolerated well by the children and was easy to perform. Four children had a positive challenge outcome, all reacting to very small amounts of milk. All but two of the non-reacting children were able to introduce milk and egg into their diet.
Nitric oxide and eczema: We investigated the effect of eczema treatment on the NO levels in urine. The sum of nitrite and nitrate was measured in urinary samples from 94 infants at two visits, with an interval of 6 weeks, and the results were compared with clinical data. The levels of NO products increased significantly when the eczema improved.
The atopic march: The aim was to evaluate the atopic march in children with eczema, from referral at <2 years until 4½ years of age. We followed 123 children with eczema, 78 sensitized and 45 not sensitized to milk and/or egg, with respect to eczema severity, other allergic manifestations, development of airway sensitization, and achievement of food tolerance. The difference in severity of eczema at referral was significant when comparing food-sensitized with non-sensitized children. At follow-up, 62% were still affected by eczema, although 56% only mildly so. Tolerance was achieved in 81% of the children allergic to milk and 68% of those allergic to egg. Fifty-eight percent of the food-sensitized children and 26% of the non-sensitized children had become sensitized to aeroallergens, a significant difference. The difference in airway symptoms was not significant. Very few children were exposed to tobacco smoke in their homes.
Conclusions: Increased precautions should be considered when performing skin prick tests in infants <6 months of age. The use of a single prick, to avoid the risk of summation of reactions, is justified when performing skin prick tests. We report recipes and a protocol for standardized open and double-blind placebo-controlled low-dose food challenge in young children, enabling the introduction of small amounts of egg and milk into the diet during tolerance development. NO products in urine increases when eczema improves. This might be due to a Th2/Th1 shift induced by the eczema treatment and skin healing, and the variation in NO response may be due to individual variations in NO-induced feedback downregulation of Th1 and Th2 proliferation. The prognosis for achieving clinical tolerance is very good in children early sensitized and allergic to milk and egg, but they will become significantly more often sensitized to aeroallergens.
Institutionen för molekylär och klinisk medicin , 2006.
2006-01-27, Eken, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (English)