Wed, 22/12/2021 | News

Now recruiting: study aimed at protecting young children against food allergies

Examining how giving a 'whole cell' pertussis vaccine instead of 'acellular' at 2 months of age can help protect children from developing allergies
Why this study?

The number of children suffering from food allergies appears to have risen greatly in the last 20 years. Statistics now show up to 3 in every 10 Australian children develop either a food-related allergy or eczema. Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to everyday substances such as different types of food. Researchers believe that by harmlessly mimicking infections, some vaccines have the potential to help steer the immune system away from developing reactions.

What do we want to achieve?

The OPTIMUM Study aims to determine whether giving one dose of 'whole cell' pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine at 2 months of age instead of the current 'acellular' pertussis vaccine can help train the immune system and protect young children from developing allergies.

How are we doing it?

The OPTIMUM study hopes to enrol up to 3,000 Australian babies aged 6–12 weeks to take part in the trial. Participants will receive all routine baby and toddler vaccines and will be assessed, including by skin testing, to see whether they develop food allergies or eczema by 18 months of age. Babies will be randomly assigned to receive either one dose of whole-cell whooping cough vaccine at 2 months of age, followed by two doses of acellular vaccine, or just have the usual schedule of three doses of the acellular whooping cough vaccine. Participation will involve up to 4 visits at the study clinic.

Who can participate?
  • Healthy babies aged 6–12 weeks of age (born after 32 weeks gestation)
  • No diagnosed food allergies 
  • Not yet received their 6–8 week vaccines 
How can you participate?

If you are currently pregnant or have recently had a baby and would like to participate, please register here. You can also contact the NCIRS Clinical Research Team on 0423 799 327 or email us at  


Read more about NCIRS clinical research and other studies we have in progress here