Vitamin D supplementation for prevention of allergy in the first year of life

Research Opportunity
PhD students
Department / Centre
Paediatrics
Location
Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Prof Kirsten Perrett kirsten.perrett@mcri.edu.au Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Jennifer Koplin jennifer.koplin@mcri.edu.au Personal web page

Summary The rise in food allergy in developed countries is well documented. Early life determinants are thought to be key given the increase is most pronounced in children under 5 years of age. We have shown that low vitamin D at birth or during infancy is associated with an increased risk of food allergy and eczema and the prevalence of these diseases is higher the further away from the equator a person resides. Low vitamin D may play a role in aberrant immune development in early life and increase the risk of developing food allergy and eczema. VITALITY (n=2739, recruitment near completion) is a randomised placebo-controlled trial aiming to determine if vitamin D supplementation in the first year of life leads to a reduction in food allergy. VITALITY has an internationally unique comprehensive set of data variables from infants and families through questionnaires and clinic visits including oral food challenged confirmed food allergy, eczema and matched biological samples from 2 to 12 months of age.

Project Details

The rise in food allergy in developed countries is well documented. Early life determinants are thought to be key given the increase is most pronounced in children under 5 years of age. We have shown that low vitamin D at birth or during infancy is associated with an increased risk of food allergy and eczema and the prevalence of these diseases is higher the further away from the equator a person resides. Low vitamin D may play a role in aberrant immune development in early life and increase the risk of developing food allergy and eczema. VITALITY (n=2739, recruitment near completion) is a randomised placebo-controlled trial aiming to determine if vitamin D supplementation in the first year of life leads to a reduction in food allergy. VITALITY has an internationally unique comprehensive set of data variables from infants and families through questionnaires and clinic visits including oral food challenged confirmed food allergy, eczema and matched biological samples from 2 to 12 months of age.     

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate to join a friendly, dynamic multidisciplinary team (including other PhD students working on the immunological aspects of the VITALITY cohort, clinician and research scientists, and epidemiologists). The candidate will analyse the wealth of VITALITY data to determine whether vitamin D supplementation has a role in optimising infant immune health in the first year of life and reduce the risk of allergic disease. Findings from VITALITY will directly inform global guidelines on the role of vitamin D supplementation to improve early infant health and, if successful, provide one of the first tangible ways to prevent food allergy around the world. The project would suit a clinician (e.g. paediatrician, allergist, immunologist) or a scientist with an interest and some content knowledge in these areas. Excellent people skills are essential, and some experience of data management and statistical analysis would be beneficial. 



Faculty Research Themes

School Research Themes



Research Opportunities

PhD students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Paediatrics

Research Node

Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

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