Possible Role of Environmental Factors in the Development of Food Allergies
The development of food allergies is thought to involve multiple factors, and it is unclear which conveys the most risk regarding this process. Since food allergy is a chronic disease without a cure at this time, understanding its development could provide an avenue for preventive practices and development of a curative treatment. Both historical and current data implicate maternal factors, genetics, and environmental exposures as major risk factors in the development of food allergy. An immature gut of the infant has been hypothesized as a possible route of sensitization. Breastfeeding until at least 6 months of age has been shown to have protective factors for the newborn and may possibly improve gut permeability. Newer studies such as the LEAP and EAT investigations also looked at early exposure and prevention of food allergies; their long-term results are critical in understanding early introduction and tolerance. Cutaneous exposure, oral exposure, and food protein exposure in house dust with their relation to the food allergy course are also a path of interest. Current research has shown sensitization can occur through impaired skin such as those with eczema and a filaggrin mutation. Tropomyosin and alpha-gal also are related to the complicated immunomodulatory factors involved in food allergy and allergic response. Cross-reactivity with plant allergens, sensitization to house dust mite and cockroach, and lone star tick bites can also induce food allergens in children and adults. Together, these factors provide a cohesive beginning to understanding how food allergies can occur and can influence further investigation into prevention, treatment, and eventual cure of food allergies.
KeywordsFood allergy Breastfeeding House dust Environmental exposure Oral allergy syndrome Tropomyosin
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Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Ethical Approval and Informed Consent
This was a review article and not a study involving human subjects so IRB approval was not required.
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