Prevention of food allergy

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Apr;137(4):998-1010. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.02.005.


The past few decades have witnessed an increase in the prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy (FA). For prevention strategies to be effective, we need to understand the causative factors underpinning this rise. Genetic factors are clearly important in the development of FA, but given the dramatic increase in prevalence over a short period of human evolution, it is unlikely that FA arises through germline genetic changes alone. A plausible hypothesis is that 1 or more environmental exposures, or lack thereof, induce epigenetic changes that result in interruption of the default immunologic state of tolerance. Strategies for the prevention of FA might include primary prevention, which seeks to prevent the onset of IgE sensitization; secondary prevention, which seeks to interrupt the development of FA in IgE-sensitized children; and tertiary prevention, which seeks to reduce the expression of end-organ allergic disease in children with established FA. This review emphasizes the prevention of IgE-mediated FA through dietary manipulation, among other strategies; in particular, we focus on recent interventional studies in this field.

Keywords: Food allergy; atopic dermatitis; cow's milk allergy; egg allergy; oral food challenge; peanut allergy; specific IgE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet Therapy / methods*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / genetics
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / immunology
  • Risk Factors


  • Immunoglobulin E