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Soy Allergy in Children More Persistent Than Once Thought

MEDIA CONTACT: Ekaterina Pesheva
EMAIL: epeshev1@jhmi.edu
PHONE: (410) 502-9433

March 25, 2010

Robert Wood, M.D.

While most children allergic to soy eventually outgrow their allergy, the condition appears more persistent than once thought, often sticking around until age 10 and beyond, according to a Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study published in the March issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Reviewing the medical records of 122 children with soy allergy, investigators found that less than half (45 percent) stopped having allergic reactions to soy products by age 6, while 69 percent did so by age 10. The findings call into question the common belief that most children outgrow soy allergy by the time they are in pre-school.

In the Johns Hopkins study, allergy persistence was directly linked to the levels of soy IgE antibodies in the blood — the higher the antibody count, the more persistent the reactions.

According to study investigator Robert Wood, M.D., most children who outgrew their allergy early experienced a peak in soy antibodies by age 3, with levels dropping thereafter. By contrast, children with persistent allergies had a slow, gradual increase in antibody levels, not peaking until around age 8.

Soy allergy affects 0.4 percent of U.S. children, making it half as common as peanut allergy, the researchers say. Many processed foods contain soy, and complete avoidance is difficult.

Co-investigators on the study include Jessica Savage, M.D.; Allison Kaeding, B.S.; and Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., M.H.S., all of Hopkins. 

Related Information:

Founded in 1912 as the children's hospital at Johns Hopkins, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with more than 92,000 patient visits and nearly 9,000 admissions each year. The Johns Hopkins Children's Center is Maryland's largest children's hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, and transplant. For more information, visit www.hopkinschildrens.org.