ACAAI 2021 Meeting Reveals Most Up-to-Date Research on Allergies and Asthma

Updated on Thursday, November 11, 2021

Atlanta Allergy & Asthma News

Atlanta Allergy & Asthma physicians recently attended the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting where the most up-to-date research on allergy and asthma was unveiled.

Below is a summary of a few of the noteworthy studies including the latest information on allergic reactions to the COVID vaccines and the concerns over lack of awareness to guidelines recommending introduction of allergenic foods in child’s first year.

1. The Possibility of an Allergic Reaction to COVID-19 Vaccine Shouldn’t Mean Skipping the Vaccine

For people expressing a concern over getting one of the three currently available COVID-19 vaccines due to fear of an allergic reaction to the ingredients, two new studies show that it is possible to be vaccinated despite a prior indication of allergic reactions.

The first study looked at patients who listed polyethylene glycol (PEG) as an allergy. PEG is an ingredient in the mRNA vaccines and people are often asked if they have a PEG allergy prior to immunization. Study authors found that “despite their previous reactions to PEG in oral PEG preparations, all 100 patients tolerated the full vaccine series without allergic symptoms.” They went on to say “Our cohort consisted primarily of patients who experienced gastrointestinal intolerance with an oral PEG preparation, this is unlikely to represent a true PEG allergy and shouldn’t delay vaccination. It’s important to recognize true vs. non-allergic reactions.”

The second study examined medical records of 25 patients referred to an allergy clinic who had reported Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) to one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. After evaluation, directed testing, and other assessments, only 2 patients with adverse symptoms following the first dose were advised by the allergist not to receive the second dose. Authors concluded that, “this study shows that with appropriate specialty evaluation by an allergist, the majority of patients with AEFI can tolerate the second dose of the mRNA vaccine to complete the series.”

Atlanta Allergy & Asthma recommends that patients and their family members receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have concerns about potential reactions, please speak to your AA&A provider through a telehealth visit or in-clinic appointment.

For more information on this study: Possible Allergic Reaction to COVID-19 Vaccine Shouldn't Mean Skipping the Vaccine

2. Four Years After Release of Guidelines, Study Shows only 40% of Parents were Advised to Introduce Peanut to their Infant During their First Year.

In 2017, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released guidelines to help parents introduce peanut products to their infants. The new guidelines were the result of landmark studies that showed strong evidence that the earlier peanut is introduced to infants, the better the chance that peanut allergy can be prevented.

Despite the new guidelines, a study presented at this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting of the ACAAI revealed that only 44% of the parents/caregivers reported introducing peanut by 11 months of age. The survey respondents reported 58% of their primary care physicians discussed early peanut introduction, but only 40% stated they received a recommendation to introduce peanut to their infants during their first year.

Also significant was that 11% of the infants in the survey had eczema. Eczema is one of the indicators parents need to be mindful of as a risk factor for food allergies. Early peanut introduction should be discussed with parents/caregivers of all infants, including those who are at higher risk of developing a peanut allergy.

If you have questions or concerns about introducing peanut products to your infant, or whether your child falls into a risk category, speak with your Atlanta Allergy & Asthma provider for guidance.

For more information on this study and on introducing peanut containing food to prevent peanut allergy: Four Years After Release of Guidelines, Parents Still Not Informed About Early Peanut Introduction

3. Study Shows that Increased Frequency of Eating Eggs in Infancy is Associated with Decreased Egg Allergy in the Future

Since 2017, allergists and pediatricians have recommended the introduction of peanut products to infants during their first year to prevent peanut allergy. A new study presented at this years American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meetings suggests that early egg introduction is associated with decreased egg allergy. The study showed that children not introduced to egg by one year were more likely to have an egg allergy at 6 years old.

Egg allergy is the second most common food allergy throughout the world. The study authors state, “current evidence suggests that early introduction of egg during infancy, followed by consistent and frequent feedings, seems protective against development of egg allergy.”

This study reconfirms the value of early introduction of potentially allergenic foods in infancy.

If you have questions or concerns about introducing allergenic foods to your infant, speak with your Atlanta Allergy & Asthma provider for guidance.

For more information on the study: Increased Frequency of Eating Eggs in Infancy Associated with Decreased Egg Allergy Later On

4. New Study Shows Latinos Had Higher Probability of Developing Asthma Exacerbations After COVID-19 Infection

A new study presented at the 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) showed that Latinos with asthma were 4.6 times more likely than Blacks to develop asthma exacerbations following COVID-19, and 2.9 times more likely than whites. The authors revealed “What we found is that Latinos had significantly higher odds of developing asthma flares, and the length of time of their asthma exacerbations was longer compared to non-Latinos.”

Despite the differences in symptoms, they did not find a difference in the likelihood of starting treatment between Latino, non-Latino white and non-Latino Black populations. The authors also stated, “All the groups sought a similar number of asthma-related provider visits, including in clinic, the emergency departments, or via telehealth.”

Respiratory viruses are a common trigger for asthma flares. However not all viruses impact asthma patients equally. Influenza and rhinovirus are more likely to trigger asthma exacerbations than others. There is no indication that people with asthma are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

It is important for patients with asthma to enter cold and flu season with their asthma well controlled. If you feel your asthma symptoms are not controlled, please schedule a visit with your AA&A provider.

For more information on this study: New Study Shows Latinos Had Higher Probability of Developing Asthma Exacerbations

5. Pregnant Women with Penicillin Allergy Label Should be Tested to Reduce Antibiotic Exposure

Nine out of ten Americans who believe they are allergic to penicillin are not allergic, either because they never were truly allergic or because they have lost sensitivity over time. It is also documented that broad spectrum antibiotics are not as effective as penicillin and their use can increase antibiotic resistance.

A new study presented at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting showed the majority of pregnant women with a penicillin allergy label who were tested were not allergic and could tolerate penicillin during labor.

The results of this study are significant because a pregnant woman may need penicillin for treatment and if she is labelled as allergic, she will be offered a less effective, and possibly more harmful antibiotic. In the case of Group B Strep (GBS), a type of bacteria sometimes found in pregnant women, penicillin allergy testing during pregnancy may help avoid infant illness from infection. Women with a penicillin allergy label should be evaluated prior to the need for the antibiotic.

It is important for anyone who carries a penicillin allergy label to be evaluated by a board-certified allergist. The allergists at AA&A can confirm If you are truly allergic to penicillin and recommend alternative options for treatment. And if you are not, you’ll be able to use medications that are safer, less expensive, and often more effective with fewer side-effects. Penicillin allergy testing is available at all AA&A locations.

For more information on this study: Pregnant Women with Penicillin Allergy Label Should be Tested to Reduce Antibiotic Exposure