In honor of National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, we present this article discussing recent trends in food allergies among children as well as links between food allergies and asthma.
The number of children suffering from allergies is on the rise, a government report says. According to a survey from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of childhood allergies increased during the last years of the 20th century, extending through 2011. The findings of that report could have profound implications on the quality of life of asthmatic childhood allergy sufferers.
Lead researcher Dr. Lara J. Akinbami from the National Center for Health Statistics and her colleagues learned about the increased prevalence after surveying parents of young children. The government scientists compared data from 1997 - 1999 to 2009 - 2011 and discovered the following
- during 2009-2011 , 5.1 % of American children ages 0 - 17 years have food allergies compared to 3.4 % in 1997 - 1999
- Hispanic children have lower rates of food, skin and respiratory allergies than non-Hispanic white and black children
- black children had the highest prevalence of skin allergies (17.4 %) compared to 12.1 % for non-Hispanic whites
- younger children tended to suffer from skin allergies, while older children were more prone to respiratory allergies
- food and respiratory allergies were more prevalent among children of higher incomes
In the next section, you will learn why this problem may have implications for children with asthma.
Allergies Can Adversely Affect Children's Lives In Many Ways
Research has shown a link between increased asthma risk among children with allergies. For example, according to the results of the National Cooperative Inner City Asthma Study (NCICAS), scientists learned that asthmatic children who were highly sensitive to immunoglobulin E in one type of food, had a greater sensitivity to foods.
In fact, government statistics show that children with food allergies are four times as likely to have other allergies and to suffer from asthma compared with children who don't have allergies.
This can be underscored by the results of recent a study that looked at risk factors for food allergies and their relationsip to asthma. Andrew H. Liu from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and his colleagues investigated associations with food allergies with asthma and other allergies. These scientists used National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) data to show that children with asthma and food allergy were at greater risk for a worsening of severe asthma compared to asthmatic children who didn't have allergies.
Allergies also increase hospitalizations. According to Amy Branum and Susan Lukacs from the Office of Epidemiology & Analysis at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, among children age 0 - 17 years, hospitalizations with a diagnosis of food allergy have been increasing through 2006.
What all this means is that allergies are not merely an inconvenience, they can in fact be deadly.
While the reasons for the increased prevalence of allergies among children remains a mystery, officials stress that early intervention can make life easier for children suffering from allergies.
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Kristen D. Jackson, M.P.H.; LaJeana D. Howie, M.P.H., C.H.E.S.; Lara J. Akinbami, M.D. Trends in Allergic Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997–2011. NCHS Data Brief Number 121, May 2013
Amy M. Branum, M.S.P.H. and Susan L. Lukacs, D.O., M.S.P.H. Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations. NCHS Data Brief Number 10, October 2008
Wang J, Visness CM, & Sampson HA (2005). Food allergen sensitization in inner-city children with asthma. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 115 (5), 1076-80 PMID: 15867869
Liu AH, Jaramillo R, Sicherer SH, Wood RA, Bock SA, Burks AW, Massing M, Cohn RD, & Zeldin DC (2010). National prevalence and risk factors for food allergy and relationship to asthma: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 126 (4), 798-2147483647 PMID: 20920770
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