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Black Children Twice As Likely To Develop Food Allergies

Research published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says that food allergy has nearly doubled over the past 23 years in black children.

Kriss Moore, The Almagest, Mar 3, 2014

Food allergy puts children at risk of anaphylaxis, which is an allergic reaction that leads to swelling and breathing difficulties.

The data gathered from 452,237 children between 1988 and 2011 showed that food allergy increased among black children by 2.1% per decade, in Hispanic children by 1.2% and in white children by 1%.

Dr. Corinne Keet, lead study author and professor of paediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, said: “Although African Americans generally have higher levels of IgE, the antibody the immune system creates more of when one has an allergy, it is only recently that they have reported food allergy more frequently than white children.” She also added that “Whether the observed increase is due to better recognition of food allergy or is related to environmental changes remains an open question.”

However, food allergies are serious not only because of anaphylaxis. If not correctly diagnosed with an allergy, patients may unnecessarily exclude certain foods from their diet, leading to malnourishment.

Allergist Dr. Wesley Burks, a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) said that individuals allergic to milk, egg, soy and wheat “are more likely to tolerate these allergens over time, than those allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.”

Dr. Marshall Gailen, allergist and editor cautions that patients with symptoms of a food allergy should consult the allergist, and never try self-treatment or introducing an allergenic food back into their diet.

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