Children, Males and Blacks are at Increased Risk for Food Allergies
A new study estimates that 2.5 percent of the United States population, or about 7.6 million Americans, have food allergies. Food allergy rates were found to be higher for children, non-Hispanic blacks, and males, according to the researchers. The odds of male black children having food allergies were 4.4 times higher than others in the general population. The authors note more research is needed to understand why certain groups are at increased risk for food allergy. It is the first to use a nationally representative sample, as well as specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) or antibody levels to quantify allergic sensitization to common foods, including peanuts, milk, eggs, and shrimp.
Akinso: In a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences study food allergy rates were found to be higher for children, African Americans, and males.
Zeldin: Specifically we found that children, males, and African American individuals were more likely to have food allergy.
Akinso: Dr. Darryl Zeldin is the NIEHS Acting Clinical Director and author of the study.
Zeldin: If you were black you were about threefolds more likely to have food allergy than if you’re not black. If you were a male your about twofolds more likely to have food allergy than if you’re female. And if you’re a child you’re about twofolds to have food allergy than if you’re an adult.
Akinso: The study is the first to use a nationally representative sample, as well as specific immunoglobulin E or antibody levels to quantify allergic sensitization to common foods, including peanuts, milk eggs, and shrimp. In addition to the indication of race, ethnicity, gender, and age as risk factors for food allergies, the researchers also found an association between food allergy and severe asthma.
Zeldin: We also found an interesting relation between food allergy and asthma. Compared to people without asthma, individuals with asthma were much more likely to have food allergy. Individuals with asthma and symptoms of their asthma that were active were much more likely to have food allergy, and if you had severe asthma severe enough to cause a visit to an emergency room for that asthma within the last year, you were extremely likely to have food allergy. Those individuals were between six- and sevenfold more likely to have food allergy than individuals without asthma. And so what this means is that there's a very close relationship between food allergy and asthma. The more severe and the more persistent the asthma the more likely you are to have food allergy.
Akinso: The data used for this study comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. It's a large nationally representative survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, visit www.niehs.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Darryl Zeldin
Topic: Food Allergy, asthma
Additional Info: Children, males and blacks are at increased risk for food allergies