Common Infection May Raise Food Allergy Risk in Kids With Severe Eczema

Staphylococcus aureus may be associated with food sensitization and allergy among children with eczema, independent of eczema severity, according to a new study.1

“We do not know yet the exact mechanisms that lead from eczema to food allergy. However, our results suggest that the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus could be an important factor contributing to this outcome,” said lead study author Olympia Tsilochristou, MD, from King’s College London, in a press release.2

The Atopic March: Key Takeaways for Pediatricians
Depression/Anxiety are Common, Underdiagnosed With Atopic Dermatitis

Dr Tsilochristou and colleagues arrived at their conclusion after assessing 312 children participating in the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study. The following measures were taken during the present study:

  • Skin and nasal swabs from participants were cultured for S aureus.
  • Serum immunoglobulin E (sIgE) levels were measured to identify sensitization.
  • An oral food challenge was administered to determine peanut allergy.
  • Skin prick tests were administered to determine egg allergy.

Ultimately, the results of the study demonstrated that S aureus colonization on the skin was associated with eczema severity in all age groups, and was associated with subsequent eczema deterioration at age 12 to 60 months.

Skin S aureus colonization was associated with increased sIgE levels for hen's egg white and peanut, regardless of eczema severity and time-point. Furthermore, participants with S aureus colonization demonstrated increased odds of persistent egg allergy and peanut allergy at ages 60 and 72 months, regardless of eczema severity.

Of the 9 participants with peanut allergy, all except 1 had been colonized with S aureus on at least 1 occasion.

“These findings indicate that [S aureus] may have reduced the chance of young infants gaining tolerance to peanut, even if peanut was eaten in early childhood,” said study co-author George du Toit, MB, BCh, from King’s College London, in a press release.2

—Christina Vogt


  1. Tsilochristou O, du Toit G, Sayre PH, et al; Immune Tolerance Network Learning Early About Peanut Allergy Study Team. Association of Staphylococcus aureus colonization with food allergy occurs independently of eczema severity [published online May 31, 2019]. J Allergy Clin Immunol.
  2. A common skin bacterium put children with severe eczema at higher risk of food allergy [press release]. London, England, United Kingdom. King’s College London. May 31, 2019. Accessed on May 31, 2019.