Kip & Co Babywrap

Melbourne Infants sought for vitamin D trial aiming to reduce food allergies

A Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) trial is seeking more than 1700 babies to test whether taking a vitamin D supplement over the first year of life can help prevent food allergies.

Research shows that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in an increased risk of food allergy, likely due to its role in shaping the developing immune system.

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.

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

Trial at a Glance:

  • Food allergy researchers are seeking more than 1700 infants for a clinical trial testing whether vitamin D supplements can help prevent food allergies
  • The study is recruiting infants aged 6-12 weeks living in Melbourne. A free allergy test will be given when the child turns one.
  • Australia has the highest rates of childhood allergies in the world, with about one in 10 infants and one in 20 children up to five years of age being allergic

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

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.

The Vitality study will provide valuable information about whether a daily vitamin drop can help prevent food allergy.

“We were so grateful to be a part of the Vitality study, we really appreciated being able to support medical research into food allergies. The test confirmed our little boy, Toby, didn’t have any food allergies, which was a relief to us,” Kiandra Ward, mother of a Vitality participant said.

“Taking part in Vitality has been so easy – Toby has loved having his little vitamin drop each day. It’s also really great to know that by being involved we might help to prevent food allergies in other children in the future.”

The call for participation comes as a bi-partisan federal parliamentary inquiry this week accepted all recommendations put forward by the Centre for Food and Allergy Research (CFAR), hosted at MCRI, to help prevent, cure and manage food allergies.

Last November, CFAR researchers contributed to a federal health committee inquiry on the rise in allergies in Australia, the impacts of severe allergic reactions, called anaphylaxis, and access to services for allergy sufferers.

The government has announced its support for clinical research into food allergy treatments including head-to-head trials of food based oral immunotherapy, research into emerging allergic diseases such as eosinophilic oesophagitis and food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome and establishing a National Centre for Allergies and Anaphylaxis in Australia.

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

Watch a video on the trial.

To find out more about MCRI’s allergy trials visit the Centre for Food and Allergy Research website

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