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Rates of Food Allergies High in Inner-City Children

THURSDAY, Aug. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of food sensitization and food allergy (FA) is high among inner-city children, according to a study published online Aug. 13 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Emily C. McGowan, M.D., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues followed 516 children participating in the Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma birth cohort through age 5 years. At ages 1, 2, 3, and 5, the authors measured levels of specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) to milk, egg, and peanut. Patients were classified as having FA, being possibly allergic, sensitized but tolerant, and/or not allergic/not sensitized based on sensitization (IgE ≥0.35 kU/L) and clinical history over the five-year period.

The researchers found that 55.4 percent of children were sensitized (milk, 46.7 percent; egg, 31.0 percent; peanut, 20.9 percent), while 9.9 percent were classified as having FA (peanut, 6.0 percent; egg, 4.3 percent; milk, 2.7 percent; 2.5 percent to more than one food). Seventeen percent were categorized as possibly allergic, 28.5 percent were sensitized but tolerant, and 44.6 percent were not sensitized. For children with FA and sensitized but tolerant children, food-specific IgE levels were similar, except for egg, which had higher levels in children with FA at ages 1 and 2 years.

"Even given that this was designed to be a high-risk cohort, the cumulative incidence of FA is extremely high, especially considering the strict definition of FA that was applied and that only three common allergens were included," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries.

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