Race Tied to Food Allergies

February 25, 2013  |  
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New research from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit finds a link between race and food allergies. It seems either African-Americans have a gene that makes them more susceptible to food allergies or their bodies are more sensitized to food allergens than their white counterparts. The same doesn’t seem to apply to environmental allergies

Through interviews with parents of 543 2-year-olds from 2009 to 2010, researchers found that 8 percent had a food allergy and 30 percent had more than one allergy through interviews. Peanut allergies were most common, followed by milk and shellfish. The investigation found that black children were sensitized to at least one food allergen three times more often than white children. In fact, 20.1 percent of black children were sensitized to a food allergen compared with 6.4 percent of white children.

However, the same discrepancy in sensitivity was not at play when it comes to environmental allergies across the board, such as dust. Black children and white children were sensitized to environmental allergens at comparable rates. Black children with one parent who were sensitized to one environmental allergen were twice as likely to show a similar allergy than black children who did not have an allergic parent. This finding supports the theory that genetics are at play when it comes to all allergies.

After this study, study authors feel more research is necessary to see just how the allergy develops to determine why the disparity exists.

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