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BCG for the prevention of food allergy — exploring a new use for an old vaccine

Nicholas Kiraly, Katrina J Allen and Nigel Curtis
Med J Aust 2015; 202 (11): 565-566. || doi: 10.5694/mja14.01511
Published online: 15 June 2015

BCG has profound immunomodulatory effects that may reduce the risk of food allergy in children

The prevalence of allergic disease in developed countries has risen dramatically since the mid 20th century and Australia now has the highest documented prevalence of childhood food allergy in the world.1 Theories to explain this rise include changes in the timing of food introduction, epigenetic changes related to environmental factors, and alterations in micronutrient status (particularly of vitamin D). Interactions between the human microbiome, microbial exposures during infancy and the developing immune system are particularly important. According to this model, termed the “hygiene hypothesis” or, more recently, “biome depletion”,2 immune system development may be influenced not only by infections, but also by exposures to animals and antibiotics, and through birth by Caesarean section.

  • Nicholas Kiraly1,2
  • Katrina J Allen1,2,0,3
  • Nigel Curtis1,2,0,3

  • 1 Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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