A new study has raised a serious public health concern and has documented that food allergies in particular amongA African American children has doubled over 23 years. The research published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology does not define a cause for the epidemic rise in food allergies and is based on the analysis of 452,237 children from 1988 to 2011. Dealing with a food allergy can lead to a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis if the child is unexpectedly exposed to the allergic food.
“Our research found a striking food allergy trend that needs to be further evaluated to discover the cause,” said Corinne Keet, MD, MS, lead study author and assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. “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. Whether the observed increase is due to better recognition of food allergy or is related to environmental changes remains an open question.”
“Those allergic to milk, egg, soy, and wheat are more likely to tolerate these allergens over time, than those allergic to peanuts and tree nuts,” said allergist Wesley Burks, MD, lead study author and ACAAI fellow. “No single test alone can predict eventual food tolerance, but when patients are under the regular care of a board-certified allergist they can be re-evaluated and tested in different ways.”
“If you think you have symptoms of a food allergy, you should see an allergist for proper testing, diagnosis and treatment,” said allergist Marshall Gailen, MD, Annals editor. “You should never take matters into your own hands, whether it is self-treating your allergy or introducing an allergenic food back into your diet to see if you’re still allergic.”
Although not specified by researchers in this study the rise in food allergies appears to be correlated with the increased use of pesticides and pesticide resistant genetically engineered foods on the market, that can trigger an immune response.
Corinne A. Keet, Jessica H. Savage, Shannon Seopaul, Roger D. Peng, Robert A. Wood, Elizabeth C. Matsui. Temporal trends and racial/ethnic disparity in self-reported pediatric food allergy in the United States. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 2014; 112 (3): 222 DOI: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.12.007