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T07005: The effect of exposure to food protein via maternal sources on the development of food allergy in infants with a family history of atopy

Monday 4 November 2002

This research project investigates whether eating eggs during pregnancy and breastfeeding has any influence on the incidence of egg allergy in infants.

Study Duration: April 1998 to June 2002

Contractor: Southampton University


The aim of this project is to see whether excluding egg from the mother's diet during pregnancy and until the end of breastfeeding has any influence on the incidence of egg allergy in the infants.

Results and findings

This study investigated the hypothesis that if mothers avoided eating eggs during pregnancy and breastfeeding, incidence of egg allergy and associated allergic problems would be reduced.

The researchers found that dietary avoidance of egg is difficult to achieve and so it was not possible to draw any conclusions about the effect of high egg intake on the development of infant atopy. It is concluded that the results demonstrate that there is not an all-encompassing panacea for the prevention of allergic disease, but that some prevention measures may have their place in certain population sub-groups.

Dissemination information

Project completed: final report is available from the FSA Library and Information centre. To obtain a copy, please contact the Enquiry Desk, Dr Elsie Widdowson Library and Information Services, Food Standards Agency (020 7276 8181/8182 or at library&

Vance GHS, Warner JO. Poster presentation entitled 'Can measurement of egg specific IgG be used to monitor compliance to an egg free diet?' American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (Feb 1999).

Vance GHS, Jones CA, Warner JA and Warner JO. Oral presentations entitled 'Immunoglobulin G responses to egg allergen during the first five years of life' International Congress of Allergology and Clinical Immunology. Sydney, Australia. October 2000.

Vance GHS, Holloway JA, Warner JO, Jones CA. Oral presentations entitiled 'Foetal exposure to a dietary and inhalant allergen'. International Congress of Allergology and Clinical Immunology, Sydney, Australia. October 2000.

Grimshaw KEC, Vance GHS, Kilburn SA, Warner JO. Poster presentation entitled 'Effect of maternal egg avoidance on serum concentrations of egg specific IgG'. XIIIth International Congress of Dietetics. Edinburgh, UK July 2000.

Warner JO, Jones CA, Kilburn Sa, Vance GHS, Warner JA. Prenatal sensitisation in humans. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2000;11 (suppl 13): 6-8.

Vance GHS, Holloway JA, Warner JO. Oral presentation to EACCI congress: The Allergic March: Update on prospective birth cohort studies addressing the development of atopy and asthma in childhood. Berlin, Germany. May 2000.

Jones CA, Vance GHS, Power LL, Pender SLF, Macdonald TT, Warner JO. Costimulatory molecules in the developing human gastrointestinal tract: a pathway for fetal allergen priming. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001;108(2): 235-41.

Jones CA, Holloway JA, Popplewell EJ, Diaper ND, Holloway JW, Vance GHS, Warner JA, Warner JO. Reduced soluble CD14 levels in amniotic fluid and breast milk are associated with the subsequent development of atopy, eczema or both. J.Allergy Clin Immunol 2002;109:858-66.

PhD submission by Dr G Vance. Early life exposure to dietary allergen – characteristics, and consequences for allergic sensitisation and disease. PhD thesis, University of Southampton 2002.

Contact: Dr Joelle Buck
Tel: 020 7276 8516

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