Based on evidence that introducing peanut before 12 months of age significantly reduces the risk of peanut allergy, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) recently revised their guidelines for infant feeding and allergy prevention, recommending that common food allergens be introduced during the first year of life. The SmartStartAllergy App has been developed as an active surveillance tool for promoting the ASCIA guidelines and monitoring parent-reported allergic reactions to food during the first year of life.
The SmartStartAllergy App has been developed based on the SmartVax (www.smartvax.com.au) program that uses short message service (SMS) and smartphone technology to actively monitor vaccine safety in real time.
Having worked to develop the SmartStartAllergy App and integrate it with General Practice management software, allergy experts in Western Australia have conducted a pilot study to determine the proportion of infants who have been introduced to common food allergens by 12 months of age, and to collect information about parent‐reported food‐related allergic reactions.
Sixty-nine General Practices across Australia participated in the pilot, with results showing over 80 per cent of participating parents had introduced peanut to their infants within the first 12 months. This aligns with the current infant feeding guidelines. However, children who had a first-degree relative with a food allergy were less likely to have been introduced to peanut by 12 months than infants without a family history of food allergy.
In the future, SmartStartAllergy data could help to guide health promotion interventions by comparing state and national trends in the introduction of common food allergens with the incidence of food allergy. SmartStartAllergy can also provide health promotion messages to parents of infants yet to be exposed to common food allergens.
An Open Access publication relating to the SmartStartAllergy App trial is available online and the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) recently recorded a podcast episode with National Allergy Strategy Manager Sandra Vale, Perth Children’s Hospital consultant immunologist Dr Michael O’Sullivan, and Dr Alan Leeb who is a GP and developer of SmartStartAllergy.
The podcast can be downloaded as an MP3 file here.