A recent study has found that rats which are given oligosaccharide-containing diets during pregnancy and lactation produce pups with altered gut bacteria and immune systems, who are protected from food allergies.
Among all allergy types, one of the most prevalent is food allergies, which are believed to affect up to 2% of adults and 8% of children in developed countries. Food allergies usually begin within the first 2 years of a child`s life and are the result of an intense and abnormal immune response to ingested food. This reaction results in an inflammatory response from the body and the symptoms range from anaphylaxis to swelling and hives. Of the most common food allergies, wheat allergies are responsible for affecting 0.5% of populations in developed countries, yet the only sustained form of allergy supervision continues to be avoidance and rescue responses to reactions.
A recent pre-clinical study looked at the possibility of preventing food allergies in newborns by changing the diets of their mothers during pregnancy and lactation. These diets were changed to include prebiotics such as oligosaccharides: non-digestible carbohydrates which interact with bacteria in the gut to improve host health and regulate inflammation in response to allergic reactions.
The pups of mothers receiving prebiotic-rich diets were compared to those who were fed normal diets and both sets were induced to develop sensitivity to wheat allergies, then exposed to the wheat allergens to observe if an allergic response occurred. Pups of oligosaccharide-diet mothers were protected from food allergies and had decreased inflammation responses and an overall less severe reaction to the wheat exposure.
This study shows that it is possible to prevent food allergies and it provides strong evidence that allergies should now be looked at through a preventative means, as opposed to the current method of monitoring and reaction.
Bouchaud, G, Castan, L, Chesne, J, Braza, F, Aubert, P, Neunlist, M, Magnan, A, & Bodinier, M. “Maternal exposure to GOS/inulin mixture prevents food allergies and promotes tolerance in offspring in mice”. European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology January 26, 2016. 71:68-76
Written by Alexandra Lostun, BSc.