Background: It is thought that the natural evolution of food allergy has a good tolerance prognosis. However, there are few follow-up studies that determine the exact probability of tolerance to a given food or that analyze prognostic factors that can help us to understand the evolution of a child who begins life with a food allergy.
Objective: We sought to determine the likelihood that children younger than 2 years of age with allergy to egg would eventually have tolerance to it and to analyze several prognostic predictors using egg white-specific IgE level as the main variable.
Methods: We performed a prospective study of 58 children younger than 2 years of age with egg allergy, who were studied periodically until tolerance developed or until the end of the study. During the follow-up period, open challenge tests were carried out according to previously established criteria to verify tolerance to egg. Factors such as egg white-specific IgE level, serum total IgE level, symptoms after egg ingestion, size of skin prick test reactions to egg white, atopic dermatitis, and sex were analyzed as prognostic markers. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were used to calculate cumulative tolerance probability. Predictor influence and relative prognostic importance were estimated with the Cox proportional regression model.
Results: The median time from the appearance of the first symptoms to tolerance was 35 months. Cumulative tolerance probability was 16% at 12 months of follow-up, 28% at 24 months, 52% at 36 months, 57% at 48 months, and 66% at 60 months. The relative weight of prognostic factors, expressed as the hazard ratio, was 50.95 for symptoms and 3.74 for the size of skin prick test reactions, with both being independent effects. The hazard ratio was 1.173 for every 0.1-unit decrease in the concentration log (decimal logarithm) of specific IgE level, with this effect being associated with tolerance only in children with cutaneous symptoms.
Conclusions: Half of the children younger than 2 years of age with egg allergy will tolerate the food at 35 months of follow-up, and the proportion could be 66% after 5 years. At that age, the main predictors were the symptoms experienced after egg ingestion, followed by the size of skin prick test reactions. In addition, the specific IgE antibody level is an important prognostic marker in children who only had cutaneous symptoms.