Update on allergies in pregnancy, lactation, and early childhood

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 May;123(5):1012-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2009.01.045. Epub 2009 Feb 26.


The factors responsible for the induction of allergic disease at an early age have not been completely identified. Therefore a major research focus is their identification to elaborate recommendations for prevention of sensitization in high-risk or atopic children. This review analyzes known or suspected reasons for sensitization in pregnant women and infants from both clinical and experimental animal studies. Recent studies and meta-analyses could not confirm the protective effect of an allergen-poor diet on the part of the mother during pregnancy and lactation. Likewise, the type of bottle feeding or the introduction of solid food into the child's diet might not significantly influence the development of atopy, allergy, or asthma in the child's life. Disappointingly, the few preventive measures remaining to reduce the risk of allergic sensitization and atopic diseases in mother and child are the avoidance of smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy and lactation and the avoidance of the impairment of gastric function. Further studies are urgently needed to address the influence of certain foods and nutrients, as well as environmental factors, for prevention of allergic diseases in the low- or high-risk infant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / immunology
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Breast Feeding / adverse effects
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Infant
  • Lactation / immunology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / immunology*
  • Premature Birth / immunology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Gastrointestinal Agents