Babies sought for major food allergy trial

Babies are being sought for a trial to test whether a vitamin D supplement can help prevent food allergies. 

The Vitality study, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), is recruiting 1700 Melbourne infants aged six to 12 weeks.  

All children enrolled in the study receive a free and comprehensive allergy check when they turn one, to test for the 12 most common childhood allergens, including nuts, eggs and cow’s milk. 

With allergies steadily increasing in recent years, MCRI Associate Professor Kirsten Perrett said research showed that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in an increased risk of food allergy. 

This is likely due to its role in shaping the developing immune system. 

“People who live in countries that are further away from the equator, who receive less sunlight and as a result, may make less Vitamin D, have higher rates of food allergy. This provides a clue that vitamin D may be one factor that contributes to food allergy,” she said.  

Australia has the highest rates of childhood food allergy in the world, with about one in 10 infants and one in 20 children up to five years of age being allergic.

Associate Professor Perrett said prevention was key to reducing the food allergy epidemic. 

“At this stage we have some hunches about why food allergy has been on the rise but we need to do these clinical trials to find out for sure,” she said.

Participation in the randomised controlled Vitality trial involves an initial sample collection, completing four online surveys during the child’s first year of life, attending a free allergy test appointment at The Royal Children’s Hospital when their child turns one and giving their baby one drop of vitamin D or placebo every day until the age of one.

To find out more about the study contact 03 9936 6027 or visit vitality@mcri.edu.au 

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