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Researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the University of Melbourne have identified a new way to accurately test for peanut allergy.It is hoped the test will be more cost effective and convenient than standard approaches and minimise over-diagnosis of peanut allergy in the community. 

Australian scientists have discovered that changes to a gene involved in brain development can lead to testis formation and male genitalia in an otherwise female embryo.

Scientists have discovered that the alteration of a single gene could cause some male embryos to develop as females.

Parents who delay giving their babies allergenic foods could be doing more harm than good, with a new Australian study showing the rate of egg allergy significantly increases among toddlers who are introduced to the food after 12 months of age.

The world-first research involving University of Melbourne researchers in a Murdoch Childrens Research Institute led study found babies given egg after 12 months of age were up to five times more likely to develop egg allergy as they grew older than infants introduced to egg at four to six months of age.

Lead authors A/Professor Katie Allen and Jennifer Koplin said the study added to growing evidence showing early introduction of allergenic foods could be the best way to protect children against allergies.

“Until recently, Australian and international guidelines recommended that infants with a family history of allergy delay introducing allergenic foods such as egg, peanut and nuts until up to two to three years of age,” Ms Koplin said.

“Our study suggests that babies who ingest these foods at an earlier age may be less likely to develop food allergies as they grow older. It seems that early introduction of egg may protect against egg allergy, while delaying its introduction may put the child at increased risk of developing an allergy.”

The study, published online today by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, involved more than 2500 Victorian infants to assess whether timing of egg introduction was associated with increased or decreased risk of egg allergy.

Egg allergy is the most common food allergy in infants and toddlers and can result in hives, vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some circumstances, anaphylaxis.

Infants who were introduced to egg after 12 months of age had triple the risk of egg allergy at 14-18 months of age than those given egg at four to six months of age, irrespective of whether they had a family history of allergy.

Giving babies cooked egg (boiled, scrambled, fried or poached) proved more protective against allergy than egg in the baked form (cakes, biscuits and similar products). Of babies aged four to six months who were introduced to cooked egg, just 5.6 per cent developed egg allergy compared with 27.6 per cent of those introduced to cooked egg after 12 months.

The study found no link between egg allergy and the duration of breastfeeding or timing of introduction of first solids. A/Professor Allen said further research was needed to determine if the study findings could also be true for other allergenic foods.

“Confirmation that early introduction is protective for other allergenic foods may help better inform parents in the future and could have the potential to reverse the epidemic of childhood food allergy,” A/Professor Allen said.

“Food allergies often develop in early childhood and can have a significant impact on quality of life for the child and their family.

“Although children normally outgrow egg allergy, they remain at increased risk of related conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis in later life, as well as other food allergies such as peanut and tree nut allergy which persist into adult life.”

The research forms part of a wider study led by Professor Allen at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute to track food allergy prevalence and causes among Victorian infants.

*A/Professor Katie Allen is a leading allergy researcher at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and a paediatrician at The Royal Children’s Hospital. Jennifer Koplin is a PhD scholar at  University of Melbourne based at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

 

 

Parents who delay giving their babies allergenic foods could be doing more harm than good, with a new Australian study showing the rate of egg allergy significantly increases among toddlers who are introduced to the food after 12 months of age.

An Australian study into the effectiveness of a H1N1 swine flu vaccine has revealed a single dose produces an excellent response against the virus in most children.

The study, led by Professor Terry Nolan, Head of the Vaccine and Immunisation Research Program at the University of Melbourne and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and colleagues in major children’s hospitals around Australia has been published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“This influenza vaccine has shown an excellent level of protection against influenza in children following a single dose, although health authorities around the world have recommended two doses to provide optimum protection against this unpredictable infection,” Professor Nolan said.

“However, a single dose could be a viable option in the future.”

Results of the trial demonstrate a robust immune response after a single dose in children as young as six months of age, which is further enhanced by the administration of a second dose given three weeks later.

The clinical study included 370 healthy infants and children aged six months to nine years located in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. Participants were divided into two groups, and given either a 15 microgram or a 30 microgram dose of the vaccine, produced by Australian biopharmaceutical company CSL.

A second dose was given to each group three weeks later. Blood samples to test protective antibody levels were taken before the first dose, and following each dose of vaccine.

Analysis shows that following the initial dose, 15 microgram induces protective antibody levels in 92 percent of children aged six to 35 months; and 92.9 percent in children aged three to nine years. After a second dose, 100 per cent of children in both age groups had protective antibody levels. Immune responses were robust regardless of age, baseline immune status, or seasonal influenza vaccine immunisation status.

The vaccine was well-tolerated by the children studied, with minor adverse effects very similar to that seen with seasonal influenza vaccines. No safety concerns were noted in the study

“As influenza can be a very severe disease in young children which spreads rapidly in those attending school or daycare, the published results of this trial are important and timely,” Professor Nolan said.

‘Vaccinating children is a significant component of reducing influenza transmission in the community. We are continuing to see outbreaks of H1N1 influenza in the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, we cannot assume the threat of the disease has passed in Australia.’

An Australian study into the effectiveness of a H1N1 swine flu vaccine has revealed a single dose produces an excellent response against the virus in most children.