The association between foodborne and orofecal pathogens and allergic sensitisation — EuroPrevall study


  • [Correction added on 21 April 2014, after first online publication: the title has been shortened]



An inverse association between markers of exposure to foodborne and orofecal pathogens and allergic sensitization has been reported. However, the findings of epidemiological studies have not been consistent. This study investigated the relationship between antibodies to hepatitis A, Toxoplasma gondii and salmonella and allergic sensitization to food and aeroallergens in children from different geographical areas.


Specific IgE and/or skin prick testing against food and aeroallergens were measured in children from 6 to 12 years of age residing in Greece, the Netherlands, China, India and Russia. Seropositivity to the three pathogens was measured, and data on potential confounders were collected using questionnaire.


Data from 800 children (126 from Athens; 248 from Utrecht; 110 from Hong Kong; 119 from urban Tomsk; and 197 from rural Tomsk) could be analysed. The highest percentage of positive serology to salmonella was found in Hong Kong (46.4%), to T. gondii in urban Tomsk (13.4%) and to hepatitis A in Athens (71.2%). Although not significant, T. gondii seropositivity tends to be negatively associated, and hepatitis A seropositivity tends to be positively associated with allergic sensitization.


Inconsistent associations were observed between allergic sensitization to food and aeroallergens and markers of exposure to two common foodborne pathogens. The association with T. gondii tends to be negative, consistent with the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, but the association with hepatitis A tends to be positive. Taken together, there is no clear evidence that past exposure to foodborne and orofecal pathogens protects against allergic sensitization to food or aeroallergens.