Researchers have long wondered how genetics might play a role in the development of food allergies. According to recently completed genetic research, children with African ancestry are more likely to have food sensitivities than are white children. Study author Rajesh Kumar, MD, MS, from the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago explains, “We examined whether the risk of food-allergen sensitization varied according to self-identified race or genetic ancestry.”

The study examined food sensitivities in 1104 children, averaging 2.7 years old. The children were considered to have food allergies if they had immunoglobulin E levels indicating an immune system response to any of the top 8 most common food allergens.

Some level of food sensitization was seen in 35.5% of the children studied. Those who self-reported African ancestry or black racial makeup had higher levels of peanut, egg, and milk allergies. The study authors conclude “Black children were more likely to be sensitized to multiple foods… African ancestry was particularly notable for increased risk of peanut sensitization.” They suggest that more research is needed to fully explore the link between genetics, environmental factors, and the development of food allergies.

The study will appear in the October issue of Pediatrics. Read more about the research here:

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