New research published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology has found that low vitamin D levels may increase the risk of milk sensitization in young children.
Food allergy is characterized by hives, airway swelling, or difficulty breathing that is caused by eating particular foods. The most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts or tree nuts.
Looking at past research shows conflicting views on vitamin D’s role in food sensitization and allergy. Some research reports higher vitamin D status during pregnancy and in infancy may increase the risk, while others report higher vitamin D status may be protective.
While a recent study found that vitamin D is related to food allergies in general among infants, little is known about the role it plays throughout childhood and whether it relates to specific food allergies.
Researchers from Taiwan recently conducted a study to look at the role that vitamin D might play in the risk of developing food allergies during the first 4 years of life.
The research team recruited 186 children between the aged4 years or younger. Vitamin D levels were measured at birth and immunoglobulin-E (IgE) antibodies were measured at 6 months and 1, 1.5, 2, 3 and 4 years of age.
IgE antibodies help the body fight off parasites and play an important role in allergic diseases.
Regarding food allergies, physicians will often present a type of a food to a person and measure if the body produces IgE antibodies in response to contact with that food. If these antibodies are produced, it indicates that the person is allergic to that specific food or allergen.
Vitamin D levels were inversely associated with milk sensitization at age 2, meaning that lower levels were related to a higher risk of milk sensitization.
Higher prevalence of milk sensitization at age 2 was significantly related to risk of developing allergic rhinitis and asthma at age 4.
“Low cord blood vitamin D levels appear to be associated with increased milk sensitization but not with asthma, eczema or allergic rhinitis in early childhood,” the researchers concluded.