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Immunologic findings in confectionary workers

Immunologic findings in confectionary workers

Annals of Allergy 73(6): 521-526

Food allergies are frequent in the general population. There are however, few studies of immunologic responses among workers in the confectionary industry. To assess immunologic and clinical findings of workers in a confectionary plant. Immunologic (skin tests and serum IgE) and respiratory findings (symptoms and lung function) were studied in a group of 71 confectionary workers (mean age: 35 years and mean exposure: 11 years). Skin prick testing with food extracts used in the manufacturing of candies and pastries demonstrated that the most frequent positive skin reaction occurred with extracts of cacao (31%), followed by reactions to chocolate (9%), cocoa (6%), hazelnut (6%), and sugar (2%). Increased serum IgE levels were found in 13.0% and increased IgM serum levels in 52.1% of these confectionary workers. The prevalence of asthma (26.1%) and dyspnea (26.1%) in workers with positive skin tests was significantly higher than in workers with negative skin tests (asthma: 2.0%, P = .004; dyspnea: 4.1%, P = .001). There was a high prevalence of acute respiratory symptoms during the work shift, but no significant association with immunologic tests was found. Similarly, both skin test positive and skin test negative workers exhibited significant across shift changes in lung function; however, no significant differences in baseline lung function or across-shift changes were noted between skin test positive and negative workers. Pre-shift administration of disodium cromoglycate (DSCG) significantly diminished across-shift reductions in FEF50 and FEF25 for both skin test positive and skin test negative workers. These data suggest that exposure to environmental factors in confectionary plants is associated with frequent respiratory symptoms of an irritative nature. Specific skin testing may be useful in characterizing confectionary workers at risk for the development of occupational asthma.

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Accession: 046336216

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PMID: 7998668

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