The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Food Allergies Have Nearly Doubled Among Black Children

Allergies Increase in Black Children

According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, childhood food allergies among Black children is on the rise at an alarming rate. Between the years of 1988 and 2011, the rate nearly doubled that of white children -- 2.1 percent, compared to 1.2 percent every ten years. The study, published in the March issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, involved nearly 500,000 children.

Reason for the increase

Researchers are still studying the issue to see if the dramatic increase is the result of simply better allergy detection, or whether it is the result of something else going on in the environment itself.

Difference in immune systems

It's a fact that African Americans in general have higher levels of what's known as IgE. This is the antibody that is created by the immune system when an allergy is detected. However, this has always been the case, while the increase in allergies has only recently been reported among Black children.

Researchers are continuing to investigate and evaluate their findings before they can determine with any certainty the cause for the allergy increase, but this information is really new.

Other studies have found the same results

In 2011, Dr. Rajesh Kumar, a pediatrician at Northwestern University Medical School, also conducted a study and found that Black children were 2.5 times as likely as self-reported white youngsters to be sensitive to any of the eight foods tested, and they were also more likely to be sensitive to more of the foods than white children.

That study came to this conclusion as published in Time Magazine: "These factors may include things such as the fact that newborns of African American ancestry tend to have lower vitamin D levels, which has been linked to an increased risk of allergic diseases. Or, that those who identify themselves as being black may adhere to cultural dictates for when babies are introduced to milk, which can affect how newborns’ immune systems react to it."

For more details about the study, visit www.annallergy.org
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