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Major study of food allergy in children with eczema launched

Press release issued: 12 May 2023

Parents of young children with eczema are being asked to consider taking part in a major new food allergy study run by researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, and Southampton.

Eczema, also known as atopic eczema/dermatitis, causes dry and itchy skin, which can become red and sore for no apparent reason. Many parents worry that food allergies may be the cause. For some children, disease flares can be caused by food allergy. However, it is not known whether food allergy tests can help identify which, if any, foods cause symptoms. Also, access to and use of food allergy tests on the NHS is variable.

TIGER (Trial of food allergy IgE tests for Eczema Relief) is a National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) funded randomised clinical trial recruiting 493 children with eczema, aged between three months and two years, from GP surgeries in and around West of England, Hampshire and Dorset, Oxfordshire and Greater Manchester.

Participants will be randomised to two groups: one receiving standard care and the other receiving dietary advice, based on the results of skin prick tests to cow’s milk, hen’s egg, wheat and soya. At the end of the study, it will be clearer whether the test-guided dietary advice improves disease control in children with eczema.

Professor Matthew Ridd, Chief Investigator, GP and Professor of Primary Health Care from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, said: “I am delighted to be leading this important NHS study. Eczema is common and children with eczema are at increased risk of immediate-type food allergy – a reaction which usually occurs within a few minutes. However, we don’t know whether routinely screening for food allergies is helpful for delayed allergy symptoms.

“Looking after a baby with eczema can be tough on the whole family, especially if they are awake at night scratching. There is a lot of uncertainty about the role of food allergy and food allergy tests, which this study will help address.”

Hannah Morgans, mother of children with eczema and food allergies, said: “It’s a common concern among parents like me that, by using the various creams that the doctor gives you, you’re just treating the symptoms and not the cause of your child’s eczema. Often eczema develops around the same time that babies are weaned, and it can be difficult to decide whether the two things are linked or just coincidence. Most children don’t get access to food allergy tests to help parents decide and this study will find out whether doing so improves disease control.”

For more information about the study and how to take part, visit the Trial of food allergy (IgE) tests for Eczema Relief (TIGER) study

Further information

About the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:

  • Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
  • Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
  • Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
  • Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
  • Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
  • Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.

The NIHR is the research partner of the NHS, public health and social care.

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC)
The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

Follow on Twitter: @capcbristol

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