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Keywords:

  • allergy;
  • atopic march;
  • bronchial asthma;
  • atopic dermatitis;
  • allergic rhinitis;
  • allergic conjunctivitis;
  • epidemiology;
  • food allergy;
  • food avoidance;
  • schoolchildren

Although children allergic to eggs, milk or wheat in infancy tend to become tolerant by school age, the allergic status of these children at school age has not been well evaluated. To investigate the allergic status of schoolchildren who avoided eggs, milk or wheat because of an immediate-type allergic reaction at <1-yr-old (food avoiders in infancy), we conducted a large-scale questionnaire-based survey of schoolchildren. A questionnaire on allergic diseases was distributed to the parents of 14,669 schoolchildren aged 7 to 15 yr in 30 schools in Kyoto, Japan. Of these, 13,215 responded (response rate, 90.1%). The rate of 7-yr-old children who were food avoiders in infancy was 5.4%. This rate decreased as the current age of the children increased, down to 3% in 15-yr-old children, indicating that food allergy in infancy tended to become more prevalent over the past 8 yr. Although more than 80% became tolerant to these foods by school age, the prevalence of bronchial asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis were significantly higher in this group. Moreover, avoidance of other foods (buckwheat, shellfish, fruits and others) at school age was seen at much higher frequencies than in non-food avoiders in infancy (adjusted odds ratio, 7.7; confidence interval, 5.9–10.2). This risk did not differ significantly between those who did and did not develop tolerance to eggs, milk and wheat by 3 yr old. In conclusion, food avoiders in infancy appear to have a higher risk of not only other allergic diseases (‘atopic march’) but also allergy to other foods (‘food allergen march’) at school age, indicating the need for continuous attention to food allergy.