Touching Lives - October 2010
Tracing the link between environmental exposure and peanut allergy
One in 50 children in the UK has a peanut allergy. Managing this is a daily concern; for the majority, it is a life-long battle. Eating just the slightest bit of peanut can cause breathing difficulties and many youngsters need life-saving adrenalin shots.
Evidence has suggested skin contact with traces of peanut might cause the allergy but it is not fully known why the allergy develops. Your support is helping Action Medical Research to fund a project to find out more.
Directing the study is Professor Gideon Lack, who heads up an internationally renowned research centre that focuses on childhood allergies. Over five years ago, he discovered a link between peanut allergy in children and them having severe eczema as babies and this new project will expand the findings.
The researchers aim to find out whether babies who are exposed to high levels of peanut traces in house dust are more likely to become allergic to peanuts. They are also investigating whether babies who have an impaired skin barrier are especially vulnerable.
Professor Lack’s team based at Guy’s, King’s College and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, includes Dr Helen Brough who pioneered an advanced method of measuring peanut levels in domestic dust.