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Allergies Health Conditions Hub

Food Allergies Spike Among Black Children

Researchers don’t know reason for the uptick

Childhood food allergies are on the rise, but nowhere is this more evident than among black children. A new study from Johns Hopkins University reports that food allergies have almost doubled in that population.

The study looked at more than 450,000 children between 1988 and 2011. During those years, food allergies increased among black children at a rate of 2.1 percent every 10 years, while only growing at a rate of 1.2 percent each decade among Hispanics and 1 percent every 10 years among white children.

“Our research found a striking food allergy trend that needs to be further evaluated to discover the cause,” study author Corinne Keet, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics, said in a news release. “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.”

A separate study found that many allergists can predict whether a child will be more likely to outgrow a food allergy or if it will remain a lifelong problem.

“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 study author Wesley Burks, M.D., an allergist and American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology 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.”

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