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redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Race and possibly genetics influence whether or not children will develop food-related allergies, researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have discovered in a new study.
According to HealthDay News, the study focused on over 500 children who were making clinical visits at the age of two. Each youngster was skin-tested for three types of food allergens — egg whites, milk, and peanuts — as well as seven environmental allergens.
The tests revealed that more than 20 percent of African American children were sensitized to a food allergen, and nearly 14 percent were sensitized to an environmental one. In comparison, only 6.5 percent of Caucasian kids were sensitized to a food allergen and just 11 percent were sensitized to an environmental allergen.
“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,” Dr. Haejim Kim, lead author of the study and an allergist at the Henry Ford Hospital, said in a statement Saturday.
“More research is needed to further look at the development of allergy,” she added.
The study, which was presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI), also revealed that African American children who had at least one parent who had an allergy were more than twice as likely to be sensitized to an environmental allergen than those who did not have a mother or father with an allergy.
The researchers also site an AAAI study from 2009-2010 that estimated that 8 percent of all children had a food allergy, with peanut allergies being the most prevalent.
Last month, a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) revealed how sub-lingual immunotherapy (SLIT) — a treatment where patients are given gradually increasing daily doses of a liquid containing peanut powder — could be used to slowly desensitize study participants´ allergic response to peanuts.
In related research published in December 2012, experts at Mount Sinai Hospital published research suggesting that nearly one out of every three children who were diagnosed with food allergies were victims of bullying. The study surveyed 251 pairs of parents and children, asking them about food allergies, quality of life, and distress levels and evaluating them using validated questionnaires.
“Parents and pediatricians should routinely ask children with food allergy about bullying,” said Eyal Shemesh, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and leader of the study. “Finding out about the child´s experience might allow targeted interventions, and would be expected to reduce additional stress and improve quality of life for these children trying to manage their food allergies.”