Children, males and blacks are at increased risk for food allergies

A new study showing that people with food allergies may be at higher risk of asthma than those without food allergies, has also found that children, non-Hispanic black people and males are at higher risk of suffering from food allergies.

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and appearing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, tests the blood serum of a nationally representative sample of people for immunoglobulin E (IgE) or antibody levels to allergenic foods.

This very comprehensive study looks at people aged one to 60, and has allowed the researchers to identify those populations with a high risk of food allergy. The study also looks at the possible links between food allergy and asthma.

"Having an accurate estimate of the prevalence of food allergies is helpful to public health policy makers, schools and day care facilities, and other care providers as they plan and allocate resources to recognize and treat food allergies," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., NIEHS director.

The authors note that these three categories of people may have been previously under diagnosed in studies that relied on self-diagnosis rather than antibodies found in blood serum levels.

Reference: Liu AH, Jaramillo R, Sicherer SH, Wood RA, Bock SA, Burks AW, Massing M, Cohn RD, Zeldin DC. National prevalence and risk factors for food allergy and relationship to asthma: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006.

First published in October 2010

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