Introduction of allergenic foods largely completed during COVID-19 lockdown

A new survey found that despite the social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the introduction of allergenic foods was largely complete by 12 months by families with children born during lockdown.

The study was presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting (AAAAI) 2022.

Additionally, atopic dermatitis and egg sensitization were more common in the study cohort during what they called the “COVID-19 era cohort.”

The CORAL study was a longitudinal study that examined the impact of the pandemic on allergic and autoimmune dysregulation in 365 infants born in Ireland during the first lockdown from March to May 2020.

Investigators led by Marguerite Lawler, PhD, Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, speculated that the social and physical changes resulting from the lockdown could have consequences for microbiome diversity and allergic sensitization.

The methods

Lawlaer and his colleagues give questionnaires to families who want to participate in the study, which were completed at 6 and 12 months.

At the 12-month review, skin testing, COVID-19 antibody testing, and SCORAD assessment for atopic dermatitis were performed. Additionally, allergen awareness rates were compared to national data from a previous study, BASELINE, from 2008 to 2011.

The results

Between 6 and 12 months, the investigators observed that the introduction of allergenic foods increased from 46% to 99% for cow’s milk, from 25.7% to 98.5% for eggs and 12.4% 78.2% for groundnuts.

Additionally, 5.8% (20/344) of CORAL infants were sensitized to eggs, compared to 3.18% (45/1540) in BASELINE (p 50.007), although sensitization rates to milk and peanuts and rates of physician-diagnosed food allergies are similar between cohorts.

However, the cumulative incidence of atopic dermatitis at 12 months increased in the CORAL group to 87/344 (25.3%) versus 232/1494 (15.5%) in BASELINE (p

Atopic dermatitis and egg sensitization appear to be more common in this COVID-19 era cohort at 12 months,” the team wrote. “Whether this represents a long-term 10-year trend or short-term changes due to social isolation imposed by COVID-19 remains to be determined.”

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