[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 23-Feb-2013
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Contact: David Olejarz
David.Olejarz@hfhs.org
313-874-4094
Henry Ford Health System

Race linked to childhood food allergies, not environmental allergies

IMAGE: Haejim Kim, M.D., is a Henry Ford Hospital allergist and the study's lead author.

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DETROIT Research conducted at Henry Ford Hospital shows that race and possibly genetics play a role in children's sensitivity to developing allergies. Researchers found:

The study will be presented Saturday at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting,

"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," says Haejim Kim, M.D., a Henry Ford allergist and the study's lead author. "More research is needed to further look at the development of allergy."

Sensitization means a person's immune system produces a specific antibody to an allergen. It does not mean the person will experience allergy symptoms.

According to an AAAI study from 2009-2010, an estimated 8 percent of children have a food allergy, and 30 percent of children have multiple food allergies. Peanut is the most prevalent allergen, followed by milk and shellfish. 1The Henry Ford study consisted of a longitudinal birth cohort of 543 children who were interviewed with their parents and examined at a clinical visit at age 2. Data included parental self-report of allergies and self-reported race (African American or white/non-Hispanic). The children were skin-tested for three food allergens egg whites, peanuts and milk and seven environmental allergens.

Key findings:

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The study was funded by Henry Ford Hospital and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.



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