To cite this article: Kusunoki T, Mukaida K, Morimoto T, Sakuma M, Yasumi T, Nishikomori R, Heike T. Birth order effect on childhood food allergy. Pediatric Allergy Immunology 2012: 23: 250–254.
Higher birth order is associated with a smaller risk of allergy (birth order effect). The purpose of this study was to compare the significance of the birth order effect on the prevalence of specific allergic diseases [bronchial asthma (BA), atopic dermatitis (AD), allergic rhinitis (AR), allergic conjunctivitis (AC), and food allergy (FA)] among schoolchildren. A questionnaire survey dealing with the prevalence of allergic diseases was administered to the parents of 14,669 schoolchildren aged 7–15 yr. Based on the data, the prevalence of each allergic disease was compared according to birth order (1st, 2nd, and 3rd or later). Multiple regression analysis was performed to test the significance of the differences.
There was no significant difference in the prevalence of BA or AD according to birth order. The prevalence of AR, AC, and FA decreased significantly as birth order increased. The prevalence of FA among those with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd or later birth order was 4.0%, 3.4%, and 2.6%, respectively (p = 0.01). With respect to symptoms in infancy, the prevalence of wheeze increased significantly and that of FA and eczema in infancy decreased significantly as birth order increased.
The present data show a significant birth order effect on FA. The effect was also observed for the prevalence of FA and eczema in infancy. These data support the concept of early, non-allergen-specific programming of IgE-mediated immunity.