Could Race Be Behind Childhood Food Allergies?
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Could race be a factor in childhood food allergies? New research suggests that race and genetics do play a role in children’s sensitivity to developing certain allergies.
Research at Henry Ford Hospital found African American children were sensitized to at least one food allergen three times more often than Caucasian children. Also, African American children who had one allergic parent were sensitized to an environmental allergen twice as often as African American children without an allergic parent.
Sensitization means that a person’s immune system produces a specific antibody to an allergen, even though they might not experience any allergy symptoms.
"Our findings suggest that African Americans may have a gene making them more susceptible to food allergen sensitization or the sensitization is just more prevalent in African American children than white children at age 2. More research is needed to further look at the development of allergy,” Haejim Kim, MD, a Henry Ford allergist and the lead study author, was quoted as saying.
An American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology study from 2009 and 2010 found that an estimated 8 percent of children have a food allergy and 30 percent of children have multiple food allergies, with peanut being the most prevalent allergen followed by shellfish and milk.
The study at Henry Ford observed a birth cohort of 543 children who were interviewed with their parents and examined at a clinical visit at age two. Data included parental allergies and race. The children were skin-tested for three food allergens (egg whites, milk, and peanuts), and seven environmental allergens.
Key findings included: African American children with an allergic parent were sensitized to an environmental allergen 2.45 times more often, 13.9 percent of Africa-American children were sensitized to an environmental allergen compared to 11 percent of Caucasian children, and 20.1 percent of African American children were sensitized to a food allergen compared to 6.4 percent in Caucasian children.
SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, February 2013
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