Background: Buckwheat flour (BF) is known as a potent food allergen. Sensitization to it usually occurs by ingestion but also by inhalation in occupational or domestic exposure. Buckwheat chaff-stuffed pillows (BCP) can be contaminated with BF during the process of pilling, and many Korean children and adults use BCP for health reasons.
Methods and results: We here present three cases of BF allergy in children using BCP, who had been treated as nonatopic asthmatics after undergoing the routine allergy skin tests and serologic tests. We took careful clinical histories, and performed skin prick tests (SPT), the radioimmunoassay (RIA) for specific IgE, the BCP-elimination test, the BF bronchial provocation test, and IgE Western blot. All three children showed positive skin reactions to BF, but none of them had positive reactions to house-dust mites. Nocturnal asthmatic symptoms were improved during 7 days of BCP elimination, and asthmatic responses were observed by bronchial provocation tests with homemade BF extract. Serum BF-specific IgE antibodies and several IgE-binding proteins were detected by RIA and Western blot analysis, respectively.
Conclusions: Thus, a small amount of BF attached to BCP can induce BF sensitization, and BCP should be considered a main cause of childhood nocturnal asthma in those asthmatics exposed to these pillows.