Field Notes

Vegetable Protein Consumption May Help
Kidney Disease Patients Live Longer

Increased consumption of vegetable protein was linked with prolonged survival among kidney disease patients in a new study. The findings recently were presented at ASN Kidney Week in Atlanta.

Due to poor kidney function, toxins that normally are excreted in the urine can build up in the blood of individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Research shows that compared with animal protein, vegetable protein intake in patients is linked with lower production of such toxins. However, it’s unclear whether consuming more vegetable protein prolongs CKD patients’ lives.

To investigate, a team led by Xiaorui Chen, a graduate research assistant at the University of Utah, studied 1,104 CKD patients in the 1988-1994 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III and asked them about their animal and vegetable protein intake.

After controlling for factors such as age, smoking, and BMI, the researchers found that for each 10-g increase in vegetable protein intake per day, participants had a 14% lower risk of dying by the end of 2006. “Interventional trials are needed to establish whether increasing vegetable protein will decrease mortality in the CKD population,” they wrote.

— Source: American Society of Nephrology


Allergy Shots During Pregnancy
May Decrease Allergies in Children

Expecting mothers who suffer from allergies may want to consider another vaccination in addition to the flu shot and Tdap. A study presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) found that women who receive allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, during pregnancy may decrease their baby’s chance of developing allergies.

“Our research found trends suggesting women receiving allergy shots either before or during pregnancy reduced their child’s chances of having asthma, food allergies, or eczema,” said allergist Jay Lieberman, MD, an ACAAI member. “Prior studies have suggested that mothers can pass protective factors to their fetus that may decrease their child’s chance of developing allergic disease, and these protective factors are increased with allergy immunotherapy.”

According to the ACAAI, allergies tend to run in families. If both parents have allergies, their children have a 75% chance of being allergic. If only one parent is allergic or if a relative has allergies, the child has a 30% to 40% chance of having an allergy. If neither parent has an allergy, the chance of a child developing an allergy is only 10% to15%.

“More research is needed to understand if mothers can truly prevent allergies in their children by receiving allergy shots during or before pregnancy,” Lieberman said. “However, these study results show there’s a strong association which is very encouraging as allergists explore this possibility.”

If a specific allergy is identified and can’t be avoided or medications aren’t sufficient, allergists prescribe immunotherapy to control and often eliminate symptoms. Immunity doesn’t occur immediately, but some patients do begin to feel better quickly. Most patients receive monthly injections for three to five years once they reach the maintenance dose.

“Allergy shots aren’t only effective but cost-efficient,” said allergist Warner Carr, MD, chair of the ACAAI Immunotherapy and Diagnostics Committee. “Immunotherapy can result in health care savings of 33% to 41%.”

— Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology