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Risk factors for food allergy

Risicofactoren voor voedselallergie

Synopsis

The current state of knowledge on external factors that can increase the risk of food allergy is insufficient. It is therefore not possible to formulate recommendations aimed at reducing the prevalence of food allergy. These are the conclusions presented in a literature survey conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). There are indications that the prevalence of food allergy is increasing. This increase cannot be explained by genetic changes and may be explained by alterations in exposure to external factors, such as changes in diet or lifestyle. The importance of gaining insight into the external factors impacting on the development of food allergy is therefore important, since this information can be used to formulate specific recommendations to reduce the risk of food allergy. The prevalence of food allergy varies from 2% to 6% in children and from 2% to 3% in adults. Food allergy has a negative impact on the quality of life. The accidental consumption of products that contain the food allergen can even induce life-threatening symptoms. In this literature study, the RIVM inventoried the impact of microbes, environmental toxicants, diet and lifestyle on the development of food allergy. The effects of the majority of these external factors on food allergy could not be determined because there were either too few studies or the results of different studies were conflicting. There is limited evidence that the consumption of fish oil supplements during pregnancy reduces the risk of egg allergy, but these findings need to be confirmed in larger clinical trials. There are also indications that the delayed introduction of food allergens in the diet of infants is a risk factor; a number of clinical studies are currently investigating this hypothesis.
 

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