• atopic dermatitis;
  • beef;
  • children;
  • food avoidance;
  • quality of life

To cite this article: Hon KLE, Chan IH-S, Chow C-M, Wang SS, Lam CW-K, Ng P-C, Leung T-F. Specific IgE of common foods in Chinese children with eczema. Pediatric Allergy Immunology 2011: 22: 50–53.


Food atopy is important but inadequately studied among children with atopic dermatitis (AD). We evaluated whether any association existed between AD severity, quality of life, total IgE, eosinophil counts, and the number of food items sensitized. Specific IgE of ten common food items was measured for a group of consecutive AD patients (n = 85) enrolled during a randomized trial and correlated the findings with eczema severity. Twenty-four patients (28%) were negative for any of the ten common food items. The most commonly sensitized foods were shrimp (54%), egg white (43%), wheat (42%), and peanut (41%). Atopy to beef as a protein and orange as a fruit were least common among the food items studied, even among patients positive for 8–9 IgE items. Patients with severe AD (objective SCORAD > 40) were more likely to be positive for at least one of the food items (Yates corrected p = 0.024 for ≥1 food-specific IgE in severe vs. moderate AD, OR 3.42 and 95% CI 1.15–10.32); and for at least seven of the food items (p = 0.001 for ≥7 food-specific IgE vs. nil with OR 11.67 and 95% CI 2.29–67.77), respectively. The Spearman coefficients between the number of positive food-specific IgE and total SCORAD, objective SCORAD, area of AD involvement, Children’s Dermatology Life Quality Index (CDLQI), total IgE levels, and eosinophil counts were 0.42 (p < 0.001), 0.45 (p < 0.001), 0.50 (p < 0.001), 0.17 (p = 0.116), 0.80 (p < 0.001), and 0.22 (p = 0.043), respectively. Specific IgE levels for beef correlated with all the other food-specific IgE levels, including cow’s milk (ρ = 0.061, p < 0.001) and soy (ρ = 0.70, p < 0.001). The number of common food items sensitized correlated with disease severity, extent, and total IgE levels. IgE sensitization to beef protein is unlikely in the majority of children with AD, but its serum IgE level is associated with disease severity and risk of sensitization to other foods.