The risk of developing food allergy in premature or low-birth-weight children

Premature infants do not have an increased risk of developing food allergies than normal-birth-weight infants, according to new research in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI).

The study, “The risk of developing food allergy in premature or low-birth-weight children,” can be found online at http://www.jacionline.org. The JACI is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Joel J. Liem, MD, FRCPC, University of Manitoba, and colleagues, sought to determine if premature or low-birth-weight children whose guts are immature and more permeable allowing foods to be absorbed more easily, resulting in higher risk for allergy, have an increased risk of developing food allergy compared with term or normal-birth-weight children.

Using the 1995 Manitoba Birth Cohort, researchers studied 13,980 children.` Of these, 592 children were found to have food allergy. No gestational age or birth weight group had a statistically significant increased risk for food allergy.

Researchers found that prematurity and low birth weight are not associated with a change in risk for development of food allergy in childhood. This research suggests the possibility that early introduction of highly allergenic foods early in life, such as peanuts, might actually prevent the development of allergy.

The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. The AAAAI serves as an advocate to the public by providing educational information through its Web site at

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