Featured Publication- Natural History of Peanut Allergies in Childhood

The publication in this issue is a contribution from University of Portsmouth researchers within the School of Health Sciences and Social work. We spoke to Dr Carina Venter about the research in this article. 


The publication citation is as follows and is available on Pure:


Venter, C., Maslin, K., Patil, V., Kurukulaaratchy, R., Grundy, J., Glasbey, G., ... Arshad, S. H. (2016). The prevalence, natural history and time trends of peanut allergy over the first 10 years of life in two cohorts born in the same geographical location 12 years apart. Pediatric Allergy And Immunology. DOI: 10.1111/pai.12616

1) What was the background to the study?


In some parts of the world it is reported that food allergies and in particular peanut allergy is increasing. However it is not clear whether this is due to a real increase in prevalence or due to increased awareness, screening and testing for food allergies. In order to establish whether there is a genuine increase in the prevalence and to determine what are the factors associated with outgrowing peanut allergy, accurate data from large epidemiological studies is required. Therefore the aim of this study was to explore the natural history of peanut allergy in childhood in two birth cohorts from in the South of England.  


Researchers from the School of Health Sciences and Social Work have an established partnership with the David Hide Asthma and Allergy Research Centre at St. Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight, enabling us to conduct this type of research. Over the years, we have worked jointly on setting up birth cohort studies, with staff members holding joint clinical/academic positions at both centres.


2) How did the various team members contribute to the study?


The study involved two birth cohort studies, one of which, the FAIR (Food Allergy and Intolerance Research) study, was set up in 2001/2002 by a team including Prof. Tara Dean and Dr. Carina Venter, from the SHSSW. Over the past 10 years, the children born in this study have been followed up at various time points. Carina Venter conducted the 10 year follow up study as part of a NIHR post-doctoral fellowship, under the mentorship of Tara Dean. Kate Maslin completed her PhD jointly between the David Hide Asthma and Allergy Research Centre and UofP, assisting with the statistical analyses and drafting the manuscript for publication. Gill Glasbey has been the study coordinator of the FAIR study since 2001 and also works for the Research Design Service at SHSSW.


3) How did you conduct the study?


The study compared results from two birth cohort studies born on the Isle of Wight 12 years apart: The FAIR study, which recruited children born in 2001-2002 and the IOW birth cohort study, which recruited children born in 1989. In both studies, children were followed up at the ages of 1, 2, 3-4 and 10. At each time point, detailed health questionnaires, clinical examinations and allergy tests were undertaken. The outcomes of both studies were compared and written up for this paper.


4) What was the outcome?


Overall we found no significant differences between the FAIR and the IOW birth cohort for any of the time points studied, suggesting that peanut allergy appears to be stable over the first ten years of life in our cohorts. 


5) What impact do you expect the paper to have? 


We expect that the paper will help to provide some clarity on the time trends of peanut allergy. However as this study was conducted in one region of the UK, the results may not be generalizable to all parts of the world as several demographic and environmental factors may contribute to the incidence and prevalence of peanut allergy. This study does not necessarily give an indication about the increase or decrease of food allergy across the globe as there may be pockets where it is increasing and others where it is decreasing.


6) Now that the study is complete, what is the team's current research focused on? 


Since this study was completed, Carina Venter has relocated to the USA and is now working at Cincinatti Children’s Hospital conducting research in the area of food allergy, specifically eosinophilic oesophagitis. Tara Dean and Kate Maslin are both now working on a new birth cohort study, assessing the health of mothers and children born in Portsmouth in 2016.


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