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Food Allergies Linked to Asthma Risk

Study Also Shows Children Are at Greater Risk for Food Allergies Than Adults
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Food Allergy-Asthma Link

The study shows that people with food allergies were 3.8 times more likely to have asthma than those without food allergies. Food allergy also appeared to be a marker for asthma severity. People with a food allergy were about seven times as likely to have landed in the emergency room for an asthma attack in the year before the study as people without food allergies.

Exactly how food allergy and asthma are connected is not fully understood, but the link appears to go both ways. "People with food allergies are more likely to have severe asthma attacks -- and that link is one that we have suspected. But to see it in a national study helps confirm it," Liu says. "If you have asthma, look into food allergies and if you have food allergy, discuss your asthma risk with your allergist."

Carla Davis, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics-allergy and immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says that it is impossible to tell if food allergies are on the rise based on this study.

What we can tell, she says, is that "being a child is a risk factor for having food allergy and the prevalence in children is higher than in adults." This could be because children tend to grow out of certain food allergies.

For example, "milk and egg allergy can be transient, but peanut and shrimp allergy persist through adulthood," she says.

"Parents should be aware that if a child has symptoms such as hives, lip swelling, cough, difficulty breathing, feeling faint, or severe, repetitive diarrhea and/or vomiting that occur within 15 to 20 minutes of eating a food, they could be symptoms of food allergy and should be evaluated by a physician," she says.

Additionally, "people with food allergy and asthma should make sure asthma is under control because asthma is likely to be more severe in the face of food allergy," she says.

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