Disease-specific COVID-19 pediatric cases have not been studied effectively to date. Much is unknown as to how COVID-19 impacts children with pre-existing conditions, such as anaphylactic food allergies. Researchers at the Translational Pulmonary and Immunology Research Center (TPIRC), MemorialCare Heath System, Miller Children’s Hospital and Irvine School of Medicine compiled and analyzed serum samples of food anaphylactic, asymptomatic children from across the United States to determine their risk of COVID-19 seropositivity. The report, titled “Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 in an Asymptomatic Pediatric Allergic Cohort”, was published in the international, peer-reviewed open access journal Antibodies by MDPI. Their data suggests that this specific population – food anaphylaxis and highly atopic children – are not at increased risk for COVID-19 than the general population.
The study used blood samples collected between February 1 and April 20, 2020 from children and adolescents, between the ages of 4 and 18 years, prior to treatment at the Translational Pulmonary Immunology Research Center (TPIRC) in California. All patients were enrolled as part of a food anaphylaxis treatment program. At the time of collection, all patients were asymptomatic of any acute disease process and had not received any form of food immunotherapy. All blood samples were reviewed and approved by the Advarra Institutional Review Board.
A total of 172 blood samples were tested for COVID-19, with positive results in six patients (4%) who had no symptoms at the time of the blood draw. This seropositivity rate of 4% is equal or less than the risk for the general population at the time of testing in the early months of the pandemic. This concludes that patient sensitivity to five common allergens – peanut, sesame, cashew, hazelnut, and pecan – did not significantly relate to COVID-19 positivity.
“The results of our study are reassuring for parents who have children with food allergies,” says Dr. Nathan Marsteller, Director of Research at the Translational Pulmonary and Immunology Research Center. “The anxiety and stress of living with a food allergy is overwhelming,” he continues, “so I am happy to find that this specific population appears at either equal or potentially less risk than the general population.”
A notable finding was increased IgG4 in the COVID-19 positive group, nearly three times that of the negative group. IgG4 may play a role as a biomarker in the local inflammatory environment, a factor in lung disease associated with COVID-19. The elevated serum IgG4 specific to viral infection risk is novel in this study and requires further research as a potential risk factor for COVID-19 infection.
A full copy of the study can be found here: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4468/10/2/22/pdf