Race and possibly genetics play a role in childhood allergies, according to a
Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit skin-tested more than 500
children, all of whom were two years old, for three food allergens - egg whites,
peanuts and milk - and seven environmental allergens.
The tests showed that about 20% of black children and 6.5% of white children
were sensitised to a food allergen, while nearly 14% of black children and 11%
of white children were sensitised to an environmental allergen.
Black children with an allergic parent were sensitised to an environmental
allergen about two and a half times more often than black children without an
allergic parent, according to the study.
Sensitisation means that a person's immune system produces a specific
antibody to an allergy - not that a person will experience allergy symptoms, the
researchers pointed out.
"Our findings suggest that African-Americans may have a gene making them more
susceptible to food allergen sensitisation or the sensitisation is just more
prevalent in African-American children than white children at age 2," allergist
and study lead author Dr Haejim Kim said in a Henry Ford Health System news
"More research is needed to further look at the development of allergy," Kim
Studies presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about food