Umbilical cord blood is not suitable for assessing allergy risk

Historically, parents have been asked whether they would like hospitals to assess the risk their new-born babies run of developing allergies by testing their umbilical cord blood. Allergies occur when the immune system attacks harmless substances in the body, mistaking them for pathogens such as bacteria, viruses etc.

However a new study has discovered that the blood may be that of the mother, rather than the baby. Researchers from COPSAC (Copenhagen Studies on Asthma in Childhood) at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen measured the total amount of IgE in the umbilical cord blood of 243 newborns. They determined how much IgE originated from the mother using hypersensitive analyses of blood from the cord, from the baby and from the mother.

Their findings discovered that half of the tests with increased levels of IgE in the umbilical cord blood were due to IgE from the mother, which means that future tests will need to take the mother’s IgE levels into account for an accurate prediction, or that another way of testing must be developed.

Published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Souce: The University of Copenhagen

First published in October 2010

More miscellaneous research reports on food allergy

Top of page