Childhood Food Allergies Linked to Race and Genetics

Stacey Doyle's picture

Recent research revealed childhood food allergies could be linked to race and genetics rather than environmental allergies.

Childhood food allergies often keep kids from eating common foods such as milk, eggs and peanut butter. Research conducted at the Henry Ford Hospital shows childhood food allergies could be linked to race and genetics. They might play a role in a child's sensitivity to developing food allergies.

Which Children Are Most Susceptible to Food Allergies?

When a child has a food allergy, often they cannot eat or even be near the culprit cuisine. Research at the Henry Ford Hospital revealed race and possibly genetics play a role in a child's sensitivity to developing food allergies. According to researchers, African-American children were three time more sensitized to have at least one food allergy than Caucasian children. If the African-American child had one allergic parent, they were two times more likely to be sensitized than children without an allergic parent.

The results of this study will be presented today at annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The lead author of the study, a Henry Ford allergist named Haejim Kim, M.D., said, “Our findings suggest that African-Americans may have a gene making them more susceptible to food allergan sensitization or the sensitization is just more prevalent in African-American children than white children at age 2.” He also said more research was necessary to look further at the development of the allergy.

Sensitization does not mean the child will experience allergy symptoms. It means a person's immune system makes a certain antibody to an allergen. 20.1 percent of African-American kids were sensitized to a food allergen, while 6.4 percento of Caucasian children were. Environmental allergen results were closer with 13.9 percent of African-American children sensitized and 11 percent of Caucasian kids. Data was collected from 543 children who were interviewed with their parents. They were skin-tested for egg whites, peanuts and milk as well as 7 environmental allergens.

More About Children and Food Allergies

An AAAI study from 2009-2010 revealed about 8 percent of kids have a food allergy with 30 percent of kids having multiple food allergies. The most comment allergen is peanut. Some school cafeterias have a separate section for kids with peanut allergies because they can't be near them at all. The second most common allergen is milk with shellfish coming in third. More research is being conducted about food allergies as people start to recognize their importance in public places such as schools.

Cooking meals and lunch time at school can be a challenge for kids who have food allergies. Often parties at school are discouraged or parents are told to bring foods that do not contain peanut or other common allergens. Kids need to be taught from a young age which foods to avoid. Parents also have to be careful when they attend parties and family gatherings. Other common childhood food allergies are soy and wheat as well as fish. A physician can help kids and their families face food allergies and find the right foods to eat. Parenting offers some great recipes for kids with food allergies from the book “The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook” by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Marie Rominger. Here is an allergy-friendly recipe for kids pizza from the book:

Kid's Pizza-Pizza (serves 5) Yeast - and Gluten Free

Make these in small spring-form pans and have your child create his or her own personalized pizza.

* 1 1/2 cups (75 grams) instant mashed potatoes
* 1 cup milk
* 1/4 cup butter, melted
* 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
* 1 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1/4 cup (40 grams) Parmesan
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar, optional
* Optional sauce and toppings

1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for oil and optional sauce and toppings, and blend until well incorporated. Let dough sit for 10 minutes.
2. In a greased spring-form pan, push desired amount of dough on the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. You may have thin or thick dough.
3. Brush oil over dough and place in a 425 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. Thinner dough might cook faster. If desired, turn the broiler on and crisp the top for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and prepare your sauce and toppings.

Dairy-Free Variation: Use rice milk or water and margarine. Omit Parmesan.

Low-Sugar Variation: Omit sugar.

Image Source: Stock xchng chrissi

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