Why research food allergies?
They are on the rise
The number of children with a food allergy or food-related immune disorder has increased dramatically in the last ten years. Children in industrialised countries such as Australia appear to be particularly at risk. In fact, in 2011 the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found that as many as 10% of 12-month-old infants have a clinically confirmed food allergy – one of the highest reported rates in the world.
They can be really uncomfortable and even life threatening
Food allergies can cause a range of physical changes or reactions. Mild symptoms include hives and swelling. Severe symptoms such as breathing difficulties (called anaphylaxis) can be life-threatening.
Food allergies can also have a large impact on your quality of life. People with a food allergy need to be continually careful that they don’t accidentally eat something that contains the food they’re allergic too (called an allergen). People that have severe reactions must also carry their food allergy medication (an ‘adrenaline auto-injector’ such as an EpiPen or Anapen) around with them all the time.
They’re not yet well understood
Researchers don’t yet know why food allergies develop. We do know that they run in families but your family history or genetics is only part of the story. Non-genetic (or environmental) factors also play a part. To successfully prevent and treat food allergies, we need to better understand when, how and why they develop.
The research team
The Centre is a network of more than 30 collaborators from more than 19 national partner institutions including:
- The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
- The University of Melbourne
- The University of Western Australia
- The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
- Women’s & Children’s Health Research Institute
- The University of Adelaide
- The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney
- Child and Adolescent Health Service, Dept. of Health, Government of Western Australia
- Griffith University
- Children’s Health Queensland
- The University of Queensland
- Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick
- James Cook University