Food allergies raise risk of asthma attacks

One of the most comprehensive surveys ever taken has concluded that food allergies are more common in people who have a history of asthma. Funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the team, which includes National Jewish Health Associate Professor of Pediatrics Andrew H. Liu, and Darryl Zeldin, MD, acting clinical director at the NIEHS, analysed data from 8203 people.

The participants, who were aged between one and 60 years old, had their blood serum levels tested for antibodies to peanuts, egg, shrimp and milk, and were divided into those with food sensitivities and those without. Food allergies were twice as common in those who had ever had a diagnosis of asthma as among those who had never had an asthma diagnosis.

The researchers found that the more severe the asthma, the more the odds of having food allergies grew. But they were unable to determine whether food allergies cause asthma attacks or whether food allergies and asthma are actually symptoms of a severe allergic profile. They speculated that food-allergic reactions might be triggered in some people with asthma only when combined with strenuous exercise.

The researchers’ estimate that 2.5% or 7.5 million Americans have food allergies is in line with many other studies, but because only four allergens were included in the study, the results possibly underestimate the total prevalence of food allergies.

Children aged one to 19 years were twice as likely to have food allergies, Non-Hispanic Black people were three times as likely and males were twice as likely, and Non-Hispanic black male children were 4.4 times as likely to have food allergies than the general population.

Peanut allergy was the most common allergy, and the highest among the six to 19 year olds, but allergies to milk and eggs were highest in the under fives.


Source: National Jewish Health

Courtesy of Science Daily

First Published in October 2010

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