According to a new study, race and genetics may play a role in childhood food allergies.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, involved more than 500 children. All were tested at the age of 2 for common food allergens – including egg, peanuts, and milk – and environmental allergens.

According to the skin prick tests, about 20 percent of black children and 6.5 percent of white children showed a sensitivity to at least one food allergen. Meanwhile, nearly 14 percent of black children and 11 percent of white children showed reactions to environmental allergens.

Genetics are thought to play a role; black children with a parent who has allergies were about 2.5 times more likely to be sensitive to environmental allergens than black children with non-allergic parents.

Link Between Genetics, Race and Allergies Needs More Research

The study was recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, held last week in San Antonio. Allergist and lead study author Dr. Haejim Kim wrote:

Our findings suggest that African-Americans may have a gene making them more susceptible to food allergen sensitization, or the sensitization is just more prevalent in African-American children than white children at age 2.

He added, “More research is needed to further look at the development of allergy.”

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