Adverse reactions to food additives in children with atopic symptoms

G. Fuglsang, Charlotte Bernhard Madsen, S. Halken, M. Jørgensen, P. A. Østergaard, O. Østerballe

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In a multicenter study conducted at four Danish hospital pediatric departments, the parents of 472 consecutive children were informed of this project to determine the incidence of intolerance of food additives among children referred to an allergy clinic with symptoms of asthma, atopic dermatitis, rhinitis, or urticaria. After a 2-week period on an additive-free diet, the children were challenged with the eliminated additives. The food additives investigated were coloring agents, preservatives, citric acid, and flavoring agents. Carbonated ''lemonade'' containing the dissolved additives was used for the open challenge. Two doses were used: a low dose and a 10-fold higher dose. Gelatin capsules were used for a double-blind challenge. The children were 4-15 years old, and they were attending an outpatient pediatric clinic for the first time. Of the 379 patients who entered the study, 44 were excluded and 335 were subjected to open challenge. A total of 23 children developed positive reactions after the open challenge. Sixteen of these patients accepted the double-blind challenge, and six showed a positive reaction to preservatives (atopic dermatitis, asthma, rhinitis), coloring agents (atopic dermatitis, asthma, urticaria, gastrointestinal symptoms), and citric acid (atopic dermatitis, gastrointestinal symptoms). The incidence of intolerance of food additives was 2% (6/335), as based on the double-blind challenge, and 7% (23/335), as based on the open challenge with lemonade. Children with atopic skin symptoms had a statistically increased risk of a positive reaction. This may have consequences for the future clinical investigation of children with atopic cutaneous symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)31-37
Publication statusPublished - 1994


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