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Summary

Primary prevention strategies of allergy so far have been aimed to fight allergy causes, by avoiding risk factors and inhibiting their mechanisms of action. The results of trials testing food or airborne allergen avoidance as a prevention strategy were, however, rather disappointing. A reverse approach for primary prevention of allergies aims to facilitate exposure to protecting factors which promote the induction of immunologic tolerance against innocuous antigens. These factors are associated with farming environment and a ‘traditional lifestyle’, but identification of these factors is quite difficult. Major candidates include food-borne microbes, helminths or their components, which are able to stimulate mucosal immunity, particularly in the gut. Similarly, new preventive and therapeutic strategies are being tested to induce specific food-allergen oral tolerance through the ingestion of progressively increasing doses of the offending food. This shifting of allergy prevention research from avoidance to tolerance induction will hopefully allow us to reverse the epidemic trend of allergy diseases.