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Australia: New guidelines helping stem the tide of serious allergies in children

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The rising rate at which Australian children are being admitted to hospital for serious food allergies has flattened since infant feeding guidelines were changed, new research shows.

The rate of hospitalisation for food anaphylaxis has increased in Australia in recent decades – but data suggests that changes to allergy prevention and infant feeding guidelines in 2008 and 2016 have helped to stem the rise in young children and teenagers.

In 2008, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy guidelines were changed to recommend that allergenic solid foods should no longer be delayed, and in 2016 they were again updated to suggest such foods should be introduced in the first year of life.

Study co-author Prof Mimi Tang, an immunologist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said the greatest benefit of the updated guidelines was in children aged one to four.

Tang said there had been important changes to allergy prevention advice in the last 15 years. “Prior to 2008, all of the food allergy … prevention guidelines around the world were advising to delay the introduction of allergenic foods such as egg, milk and peanut until the ages of somewhere between two and four, depending on the food,” she said.

“The reason these recommendations were in place was based on theoretical concerns that the gut barrier was perhaps not as strong in young babies.”

But a growing body of evidence showed that delaying allergenic foods was associated with an increased risk of developing food allergies.

In the new study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Tang and her colleagues noted an ongoing increase in anaphylaxis hospitalisation rates in teenagers aged 15 and older at the time the research was completed. People in this age group were born before the 2008 changes to the Australian guidelines.

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Source: The Guardian, 24 February 2022

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