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Maize food allergy: a double-blind placebo-controlled study

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Summary Background

Maize allergy is not very common especially in Europe. The number of studies that address IgE mediated maize allergy is all too few. Objective

Evaluate subjects with a history of maize allergy by double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge; identify the spectrum of symptoms manifested during challenge; determine the lowest provocation dose (PD) during challenge; determine the performance characteristics of maize skin prick test and specific IgE. Methods

Twenty-seven patients with a history of maize allergy were enrolled to be evaluated by skin test, specific IgE and double-blind placebo-controlled maize challenge. Results

Forty-eight percent of the patients were challenge positive. PD range was 0.1–25 g. Fifty-four percent of the maize allergic subjects had a PD that was 2.5 g; two subjects reacted to 100 mg of maize. Comparison of maize specific IgE levels and skin test results to the challenge results revealed the following (specific IgE level/skin testing): sensitivity 1.00/0.846, specificity 0.077/0.384, positive predictive value 0.520/0.579, and negative predictive value 1.00/0.714. Conclusion

Maize is a cause of IgE-mediated allergic reactions to foods in adults and children. Nearly half of the subjects recruited were confirmed by challenge to be allergic to maize. Twenty-three percent of the positive challenge patients manifested symptoms that involved two organ systems, thus fulfilling the criteria for maize induced anaphylaxis. Maize is allergenic and can pose a risk for symptomatic food allergy at a dose of 100 mg.

Cite this as: J. Scibilia, E. A. Pastorello, G. Zisa, A. Ottolenghi, B. Ballmer-Weber, V. Pravettoni, E. Scovena, A. Robino and C. Ortolani, Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 2008 (38) 1943–1949.
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Keywords: allergy symptoms; anaphylaxis; corn allergy; double-blind; food allergy; hypersensitivity; maize allergy; performance characteristics; placebo-controlled food challenge; provocation dose

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Unit of Allergology and Clinical Immunology, A.O. Niguarda Hospital, Milan, Italy, 2: Allergy Unit, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Zürich, Switzerland and 3: U.O. di Medicina Interna 2, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, Fondazione IRCCS di Natura Pubblica, Milan, Italy

Publication date: 01 December 2008

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