Atopic dermatitis and disease severity are the main risk factors for food sensitization in exclusively breastfed infants

J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Feb;134(2):345-350. doi: 10.1038/jid.2013.298. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


Filaggrin (FLG) loss-of-function skin barrier gene mutations are associated with atopic dermatitis (AD) and transepidermal water loss (TEWL). We investigated whether FLG mutation inheritance, skin barrier impairment, and AD also predispose to allergic sensitization to foods. Six hundred and nineteen exclusively breastfed infants were recruited at 3 months of age and examined for AD and disease severity (SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD)), and screened for the common FLG mutations. TEWL was measured on unaffected forearm skin. In addition, skin prick testing was performed to six study foods (cow's milk, egg, cod, wheat, sesame, and peanut). Children with AD were significantly more likely to be sensitized (adjusted odds ratio (OR)=6.18, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.94-12.98, P<0.001), but this effect was independent of FLG mutation carriage, TEWL, and AD phenotype (flexural vs. non-flexural). There was also a strong association between food sensitization and AD severity (adjusted ORSCORAD<20=3.91, 95% CI: 1.70-9.00, P=0.001 vs. adjusted ORSCORAD20=25.60, 95% CI: 9.03-72.57, P<0.001). Equally, there was a positive association between AD and sensitization with individual foods (adjusted ORegg=9.48, 95% CI: 3.77-23.83, P<0.001; adjusted ORcow's milk=9.11, 95% CI: 2.27-36.59, P=0.002; adjusted ORpeanut=4.09, 95% CI: 1.00-16.76, P=0.05). AD is the main skin-related risk factor for food sensitization in young infants. In exclusively breastfed children, this suggests that allergic sensitization to foods can be mediated by cutaneous antigen-presenting cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachis
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cattle
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / genetics
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / immunology
  • Eggs
  • Female
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Fishes
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / epidemiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / genetics
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / genetics*
  • Male
  • Milk
  • Mutation
  • Risk Factors
  • Sesamum
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Skin Tests
  • Triticum


  • FLG protein, human
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins