Autumn Allergies

A good idea to check for dust mite exposure and vitamin D levels.

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010 Apr;104(4):307-13.

Season of birth and food allergy in children.

Vassallo MF, Banerji A, Rudders SA, Clark S, Mullins RJ, Camargo CA Jr.

Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


BACKGROUND: The prevalence of food allergy is rising, and etiologic factors remain uncertain. Evidence implicates a role for vitamin D in the development of atopic diseases. Based on seasonal patterns of UV-B exposure (and consequent vitamin D status), we hypothesized that patients with food allergy are more often born in fall or winter.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether season of birth is associated with food allergy.

METHODS: We performed a multicenter medical record review of all patients presenting to 3 Boston emergency departments (EDs) for food-related acute allergic reactions between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2006. Months of birth in patients with food allergy were compared with that of patients visiting the ED for reasons other than food allergy.

RESULTS: We studied 1002 patients with food allergy. Of younger children with food allergy (age < 5 years), but not older children or adults, 41% were born in spring or summer compared with 59% in fall or winter (P = .002). This approximately 40:60 ratio differed from birth season in children treated in the ED for non-food allergy reasons (P = .002). Children younger than 5 years born in fall or winter had a 53% higher odds of food allergy compared with controls. This finding was independent of the suspected triggering food and allergic comorbidities.

CONCLUSIONS: Food allergy is more common in Boston children born in the fall and winter seasons. We propose that these findings are mediated by seasonal differences in UV-B exposure. These results add support to the hypothesis that seasonal fluctuations in sunlight and perhaps vitamin D may be involved in the pathogenesis of food allergy.

PMID: 20408340

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2004 Jun;15 Suppl 16:4-5, 9-32.

Prevention of allergic disease in childhood: clinical and epidemiological aspects of primary and secondary allergy prevention.

Halken S.

Department of Pediatrics, Sønderborg Hospital, Denmark.


The development and phenotypic expression of atopic diseases depends on a complex interaction between genetic factors, environmental exposure to allergens,and non-specific adjuvant factors, such as tobacco smoke, air pollution and infections. Preventive measures may include both exposure to allergens and adjuvant risk/protective factors and pharmacological treatment. These measures may address the general population, children at risk for development of atopic disease (high-risk infants), children with early symptoms of allergic disease or children with chronic disease. The objective for this review was to evaluate possible preventive measures as regards prevention of development of allergic disease in childhood--primary prevention--and also some aspects of the effect of specific allergy treatment as regards secondary prevention in children with allergic asthma and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. In one prospective observational study of a birth cohort of unselected infants we evaluated possible predictive/risk factors. In two prospective intervention studies including 1 yr birth cohorts of high-risk(HR) infants we investigated the effect of feeding HR infants exclusively breast milk (BM) and/or hydrolyzed cow's milk-based formula the first 4-6 months as regards: (i) the allergy preventive effect of BM/extensively hydrolysed formula (eHF) compared with ordinary cow's milk-based formula, (ii) the effect of two different eHFs, a whey (Profylac) and a casein-based (Nutramigen) formula, as regards development of cow's milk protein allergy (CMA), and (iii) a comparison of the preventive effect of eHF (Profylac/Nutramigen) with a partially hydrolyzed cow's milk-based formula (pHF) (NanHA) as regards development of CMA. None of the mothers had a restricted diet during pregnancy or lactation period. In two prospective randomized intervention studies we evaluated the preventive effect of specific allergen avoidance and specific immunotherapy (SIT) in children with allergic asthma and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, respectively. The combination of atopic heredity and elevated cord blood IgE resulted in the best predictive discrimination as regards development of allergic disease. The optimal high-risk group was defined by either double parental atopic predisposition or single atopic predisposition, the latter combined with a cord blood IgE > or = 0.3 kU/1. 66% of unselected infants were daily exposed to tobacco smoke, which was a significant risk factor for recurrent wheezing until the age of 1.5 yr. HR infants were breastfed for a longer period and less exposed to tobacco smoke than unselected infants. Exclusively BM/eHF for at least 4 months was associated with a significantly reduced cumulative prevalence of CMA [3.6% (5/141) vs. 20%(15/75) in the control group] up to 5 yr. The effect of the two different eHFs was similar. Exclusively breastfed infants were significantly less exposed to tobacco smoke and pets, had solid foods introduced later and belonged to higher social classes. pHF was significantly (p = 0.05) less effective than eHF as regards prevention of development of CMA. A diet period of 4 months seems to be as efficient as 6 months or more as regards development of CMA. A few ongoing prospective, randomized intervention studies have produced the first indication that avoidance of indoor allergens such as house dust mite (HDM) in HR infants may reduce the incidence of severe wheeze and sensitization during the first 1-4 yr of age. Long-term follow-up is awaited. In a prospective, double-blind placebo-controlled study in children with doctors diagnosed asthma and documented HDM allergy, we found that semipermeable polyurethane mattress and pillow encasings (Allergy Control) when compared with placebo encasings resulted in a significant perennial reduction of HDM exposure and a significant reduction in the needed dose of inhaled steroids by approximately 50% (mean dose: 408 microg--227 microg/day) after 1-yr follow-up. In another randomized prospective study we investigated the possible preventive effect of SIT in children with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and grass/birch pollen allergy as regards development of asthma. Among those without asthma significantly fewer in the SIT group developed asthma when compared with the control group (19/79 = 24% vs.32/72 = 44%) after the first 3 yr; and methacholinebronchial provocation test results improved significant in the SIT group. The results of our studies support the evidence that the risk for development of early allergic manifestations e.g. CMA and atopic dermatitis can be reduced significantly by simple dietary measures for the first4 months of life. In all infants breastfeeding should beencouraged for at least 4-6 months, and exposure to tobacco smoke should be avoided during pregnancy and early childhood. In HR infants a documented hypoallergenic formula (at present eHF) is recommended if exclusive breastfeeding is not possible for the first 4 months. In homes of HR-infants, current evidence supports measures to reduce the levels of indoor allergens. e.g. HDM and pets. In symptomatic children allergen-specific treatment may influence both the symptoms and the prognosis. Allergen avoidance can reduce the need for pharmacological treatment, SIT may have the potential for preventing the development of asthma in children with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. and it may be possible to interfere with the natural course of allergic diseases.

PMID: 15125698

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2010 Oct;35(5):718.

Vitamin D status and recommendations to improve vitamin D status in Canadian youth.

Mark S.

Health Canada, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, 757 Hastings Street West, Vancouver, BC V6C 3E6, Canada (e-mail:


Little is known regarding the vitamin D status of Canadian youth. Our objectives were (i) to describe the vitamin D status of Quebec youth using a representative sample; (ii) to examine the relative contributions of diet, physical activity, and fat mass to the variance in plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D(25(OH)D), the best biomarker of vitamin D status; and (iii) to examine the influence of household income and food insecurity on the intakes of dietary vitamin D, calcium, and dairy foods. To describe vitamin D status, we used data from the Quebec Child and Adolescent Health and Social Survey (QCAHS), which is a cross-sectional survey representative of Quebec youth aged 9, 13, and 16 years. For the second objective, 159 youth, aged 8 to 11 years, whose parents (at least one) were obese or had the metabolic syndrome, were used for cross-sectional analysis in the Quebec Adipose and Lifestyle InvesTigation in Youth (QUALITY). Fat mass was measured using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and physical activity was assessed by an accelerometer. Finally, we analyzed data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), which collected data from 9 to 18 year olds (N = 8960), and was representative of Canadian youth. From this survey a single 24-h dietary recall, measured height and weight, sociodemographic, and food insecurity information were available. In both the QUALITY and QCAHS study, >90% of youth had suboptimal vitamin D levels (plasma 25(OH)D < 75 nmol·L-1) at the end of winter and beginning of spring. In the QCAHS study, older youth had a higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (25(OH)D < 27.5 nmol·L-1) (>10%) than younger youth, and girls from low-income households had lower plasma 25(OH)D concentrations. In the QUALITY study, milk consumption and physical activity had modest associations with plasma 25(OH)D, corresponding to 2.9 nmol·L-1 and 2.1 nmol·L-1 higher plasma 25(OH)D per standard deviation increase in these exposures, respectively. In the CCHS study, we found evidence that milk intake was being displaced by sweetened beverages among low-income boys and food insecure girls. We conclude that population-wide measures to increase dietary vitamin D intake should be examined in Canadian youth.

PMID: 20962929

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1984 Sep-Oct;8(5):556-9.

Prophylaxis and treatment of childhood rickets with parenteral cholecalciferol.

Bertino JS Jr, Reed MD, Halpin TC Jr.


The safety and efficacy of parenteral cholecalciferol was evaluated in the treatment and prevention of childhood rickets. Children with active disease, and those at high risk for developing rickets were treated either with intravenous or intramuscular cholecalciferol in dosages of 1000 to 1500 IU daily, for periods of 28 to 450 days. All children with rickets responded with radiographic evidence of healing. No child in the prophylaxis group developed bone disease. Side effects were minimal. Parenteral cholecalciferol is a safe and effective therapy for the treatment and prevention of childhood rickets.

PMID: 6092733

Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep). 2007 Aug;(158):1-235.

Effectiveness and safety of vitamin D in relation to bone health.

Cranney A, Horsley T, O'Donnell S, Weiler H, Puil L, Ooi D, Atkinson S, Ward L, Moher D, Hanley D, Fang M, Yazdi F, Garritty C, Sampson M, Barrowman N, Tsertsvadze A, Mamaladze V.


OBJECTIVES: To review and synthesize the literature in the following areas: the association of specific circulating 25(OH)D concentrations with bone health outcomes in children, women of reproductive age, postmenopausal women and elderly men; the effect of dietary intakes (foods fortified with vitamin D and/or vitamin D supplementation) and sun exposure on serum 25(OH)D; the effect of vitamin D on bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture or fall risk; and the identification of potential harms of vitamin D above current reference intakes.

DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE(R) (1966-June Week 3 2006); Embase (2002-2006 Week 25); CINAHL (1982-June Week 4, 2006); AMED (1985 to June 2006); Biological Abstracts (1990-February 2005); and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (2nd Quarter 2006).

REVIEW METHODS: Two independent reviewers completed a multi-level process of screening the literature to identify eligible studies (title and abstract, followed by full text review, and categorization of study design per key question). To minimize bias, study design was limited to randomized controlled trials (RCTs) wherever possible. Study criteria for question one were broadened to include observational studies due to a paucity of available RCTs, and question four was restricted to systematic reviews to limit scope. Data were abstracted in duplicate and study quality assessed. Differences in opinion were resolved through consensus or adjudication. If clinically relevant and statistically feasible, meta-analyses of RCTs on vitamin D supplementation and bone health outcomes were conducted, with exploration of heterogeneity. When meta-analysis was not feasible, a qualitative systematic review of eligible studies was conducted.

RESULTS: 167 studies met our eligibility criteria (112 RCTs, 19 prospective cohorts, 30 case-controls and six before-after studies). The largest body of evidence on vitamin D status and bone health was in older adults with a lack of studies in premenopausal women and infants, children and adolescents. The quality of RCTs was highest in the vitamin D efficacy trials for prevention of falls and/or fractures in older adults. There was fair evidence of an association between low circulating 25(OH)D concentrations and established rickets. However, the specific 25(OH)D concentrations associated with rickets is uncertain, given the lack of studies in populations with dietary calcium intakes similar to North American diets and the different methods used to determine 25(OH)D concentrations. There was inconsistent evidence of an association of circulating 25(OH)D with bone mineral content in infants, and fair evidence that serum 25(OH)D is inversely associated with serum PTH. In adolescents, there was fair evidence for an association between 25(OH)D levels and changes in BMD. There were very few studies in pregnant and lactating women, and insufficient evidence for an association between serum 25(OH)D and changes in BMD during lactation, and fair evidence of an inverse correlation with PTH. In older adults, there was fair evidence that serum 25(OH)D is inversely associated with falls, fair evidence for a positive association with BMD, and inconsistent evidence for an association with fractures. The imprecision of 25(OH)D assays may have contributed to the variable thresholds of 25(OH)D below which the risk of fractures, falls or bone loss was increased. There was good evidence that intakes from vitamin D-fortified foods (11 RCTs) consistently increased serum 25(OH)D in both young and older adults. Eight randomized trials of ultraviolet (UV)-B radiation (artificial and solar exposure) were small and heterogeneous with respect to determination of the exact UV-B dose and 25(OH)D assay but there was a positive effect on serum 25(OH)D concentrations. It was not possible to determine how 25(OH)D levels varied by ethnicity, sunscreen use or latitude. Seventy-four trials examined the effect of vitamin D(3) or D(2) on 25(OH)D concentrations. Most trials used vitamin D(3), and the majority enrolled older adults. In three trials, there was a greater response of serum 25(OH)D concentrations to vitamin D(3) compared to vitamin D(2), which may have been due to more rapid clearance of vitamin D(2) in addition to other mechanisms. Meta-analysis of 16 trials of vitamin D(3) was consistent with a dose-response effect on serum 25(OH)D when comparing daily doses of <400 IU to doses >/= 400 IU. An exploratory analysis of the heterogeneity demonstrated a significant positive association comparable to an increase of 1 - 2 nmol/L in serum 25(OH)D for every 100 additional units of vitamin D although heterogeneity remained after adjusting for dose. Vitamin D(3) in combination with calcium results in small increases in BMD compared to placebo in older adults although quantitative synthesis was limited due to variable treatment durations and BMD sites. The evidence for fracture reduction with vitamin D supplementation was inconsistent across 15 trials. The combined results of trials using vitamin D(3) (700 - 800 IU daily) with calcium (500 - 1,200 mg) was consistent with a benefit on fractures although in a subgroup analysis by setting, benefit was primarily in elderly institutionalized women (fair evidence from two trials). There was inconsistent evidence across 14 RCTs of a benefit on fall risk. However, a subgroup analysis showed a benefit of vitamin D in postmenopausal women, and in trials that used vitamin D(3) plus calcium. In addition, there was a reduction in fall risk with vitamin D when six trials that adequately ascertained falls were combined. Limitations of the fall and fracture trials included poor compliance with vitamin D supplementation, incomplete assessment of vitamin D status and large losses to follow-up. We did not find any systematic reviews that addressed the question on the level of sunlight exposure that is sufficient to maintain serum 25(OH)D concentrations but minimizes risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. There is little evidence from existing trials that vitamin D above current reference intakes is harmful. In most trials, reports of hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria were not associated with clinically relevant events. The Women's Health Initiative study did report a small increase in kidney stones in postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years whose daily vitamin D(3) intake was 400 IU (the reference intake for 50 to 70 years, and below the reference intake for > 70 years) combined with 1000 mg calcium. The increase in renal stones corresponded to 5.7 events per 10,000 person-years of exposure. The women in this trial had higher calcium intakes than is seen in most post-menopausal women.

CONCLUSIONS: The results highlight the need for additional high quality studies in infants, children, premenopausal women, and diverse racial or ethnic groups. There was fair evidence from studies of an association between circulating 25(OH)D concentrations with some bone health outcomes (established rickets, PTH, falls, BMD). However, the evidence for an association was inconsistent for other outcomes (e.g., BMC in infants and fractures in adults). It was difficult to define specific thresholds of circulating 25(OH)D for optimal bone health due to the imprecision of different 25(OH)D assays. Standard reference preparations are needed so that serum 25(OH)D can be accurately and reliably measured, and validated. In most trials, the effects of vitamin D and calcium could not be separated. Vitamin D(3) (>700 IU/day) with calcium supplementation compared to placebo has a small beneficial effect on BMD, and reduces the risk of fractures and falls although benefit may be confined to specific subgroups. Vitamin D intake above current dietary reference intakes was not reported to be associated with an increased risk of adverse events. However, most trials of higher doses of vitamin D were not adequately designed to assess long-term harms.

PMID: 18088161

Allergy Asthma Proc. 2001 Jan-Feb;22(1):5-9.

Seasonal variability of non-specific bronchial responsiveness in asthmatic patients with allergy to house dust mites.

Riccioni G, Di Stefano F, De Benedictis M, Verna N, Cavallucci E, Paolini F, Di Sciascio MB, Della Vecchia R, Schiavone C, Boscolo P, Conti P, Di Gioacchino M.

Respiratory Physiopathology Center, G. D'Annunzio University, Chieti, Italy.


The aim of the study was to assess the seasonal variability of non-specific bronchial responsiveness to methacholine in allergic asthma. One hundred sixty-five patients (83 male and 82 female) entered the study: 86 subjects (group A) with allergy exclusively to mites and 79 (group B) with concomitant allergy to pollens, e.g., "Graminae" and "Parietaria." Inclusion criteria were the absence of sensitization to other allergens, no smoking habit, withdrawal from steroids, bronchodilators, sodium cromoglycate, and antihistamines for at least four weeks before enrollment, FEV1 > 70% of the predicted value, and absence of other respiratory diseases and of upper and lower respiratory tract infections for at least one month before the methacholine challenge. None of the patients had been previously treated with specific immunotherapy. Subjects of each group (A and B) underwent methacholine challenge at first visit and were divided into four subgroups according to the period when the challenge was performed. Subgroups A1 and B1 performed the challenge in December, January, and February; subgroups A2 and B2 in March, April, and May; subgroups A3 and B3 in June, July, and August; subgroups A4 and B4 in September, October, and November. PD20 values were expressed as the natural logs of the cumulative dose of methacholine causing at least a 20% fall in FEV1. Statistical analysis was carried out using multiple group analysis and Student's t-test. Results showed that the highest non-specific bronchial responsiveness was observed in autumn (ln PC20 = 4.54 +/- 1.51) in patients allergic to mites only (group A), and in summer (ln PC20 = 4.72 +/- 2.11) in those of group B. Multiple group analysis showed statistical significant differences between subgroups within each group (group A, p = 0.039; group B, p < 0.001). In patients allergic exclusively to house dust mites (group A), multiple comparisons and Student's t-test showed statistically significant differences between non-specific bronchial responsiveness (NSBR) assessed in autumn and those of other seasons (winter, p = 0.002; spring, p < 0.001; summer, p = 0.082). These results confirm that the level of allergen exposure may influence NSBR. Mite-allergic patients showed an increase of NSBR in autumn, possibly as a consequence of higher indoor mite concentration. However, mite- and grass-allergic patients had wider variations of NSBR, possibly reflecting changes in seasonal pollen concentration.

PMID: 11227919