Pastor-Vargas C, Maroto AS, Diaz-Perales A, Villalba M, Esteban V, Ruiz-Ramos M, Rodriguez d, Vivanco F, Cuesta-Herranz J. - - Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2016: in press.
BACKGROUND: Ingestion of food allergens present in maternal milk during breastfeeding has been hypothesized as a gateway to sensitization to food; however, this process could develop during pregnancy, as the maternal-fetal interface develops a Th2- and Treg-mediated environment to protect the fetus. We hypothesized that in these surroundings, unborn children are exposed to food allergens contained in the mother’s diet, possibly giving rise to first sensitization.
METHODS: The presence of allergens in utero was studied by analyzing amniotic fluid (AF) samples in two different stages of pregnancy: at 15-20 weeks and after delivery at term. An antibody microarray was developed to test for the most common food allergens. The array detects the presence of ten allergens from milk, fruit, egg, fish, nuts, and wheat.
RESULTS: AF from 20 pregnant women was collected: eight after delivery at term and 12 from women who underwent diagnostic amniocentesis between weeks 15 and 20 of gestation. The presence of allergens was detected in all samples. Samples from amniocentesis had a higher allergen concentration than samples after delivery at term.
CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated the presence of intact major food allergens in AF samples. This early contact could explain subsequent sensitization to foods never eaten before.