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Allergen Avoidance Strategies

The World Health Organization Prevention of Allergy and Allergic Asthma Meeting Report reviews the role of allergen avoidance in the prevention of allergic diseases. Research studies have yet to confirm or refute the suggestion that allergen avoidance by individuals with a family or personal history of allergies can prevent the allergic sensitization that is necessary to trigger allergic diseases. Whilst research continues, a cautious approach to allergen exposure is currently recommended, for example, conditions which encourage high allergen concentrations, such as damp housing conditions should be avoided.

When young children are shown by skin prick or allergy blood tests to have developed sensitization to allergens, by the presence of IgE antibodies to house dust mites, cockroach allergens or pets, it is recommended that the particular allergen they are sensitized to is reduced or removed from the home environment. It is currently thought that this may help prevent the onset of allergic diseases. However, ongoing research is looking into the possibility that continued exposure might result in the development of tolerance to the allergen.

Once individuals have been shown to have IgE sensitization to an allergen, and they develop allergic symptoms upon re-exposure, it is recommended that the allergen should be avoided where possible.

The Patient Information Sheets from the WHO/WAO Meeting Report are provided here as a downloadable PDF file. They provide general guidance on minimising the amount of allergen in the environment, and provide some recommendations for preventing and treating anaphylaxis.