(CTN News) – Apparently, having a food allergy during infancy is linked to asthma and impaired lungs in later childhood, according to a world-first study conducted by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
The research, published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health and spearheaded by Murdoch Children’s Associate Professor Rachel Peters, found that early-life food allergies were associated with increased asthma risk and reduced lung growth by the age of six.
5276 infants from the HealthNuts study underwent extensive testing, including skin prick tests for peanut and egg allergies, and oral food challenges.
At six years, food allergy and lung function tests were done.
Over six years, the study found that 13.7% of kids had asthma by age six.
At the age of six, infants with food allergies have a nearly fourfold higher risk of developing compared to children without food allergies.
Asthma risk was highest in kids whose food allergies lasted till age six, not in kids who had outgrown them.
Lung function is also reduced in food allergic children.
According to Associate Professor Peters, food allergies during infancy are linked to poorer respiratory outcomes in children, regardless of whether they resolve.
It is linked to respiratory and heart problems in adulthood if lung growth is reduced in childhood.
A child’s lung development is influenced by their height and weight, so kids with allergies might be shorter and lighter. Additionally, asthma and food allergies have similar immune responses.”
It’s important to monitor the growth of babies with food allergies. A dietician can cater to the nutrition needs of children who avoid foods because of allergies.”
10% of babies and 5% of kids and teens have food Asthma allergies.
Slater’s 15-year-old son Zane developed eczema as a baby. During that time, Suba was breastfeeding, so she thought it was her diet.
Zane’s food allergies, asthma, and sesame allergies led them to seek medical attention.
Suba didn’t know food allergies and asthma were linked until Zane was diagnosed.
Zane’s food allergies weren’t a problem because they were already vigilant because of their eldest child’s allergies.
Parents and doctors should pay attention to the research showing the link between food allergy and asthma.
As Suba points out in retrospect, Zane probably had asthma long before they knew it, since they weren’t aware of it at the time. They would’ve gone to the doctor sooner if they’d known about this link.
Several food challenges at Murdoch Children’s Hospital have helped Zane tolerate certain allergenic foods better, like egg in baked goods and certain nuts.
Asthma makes some of these challenges harder. Before taking the food challenge, he must take a spirometry test to ensure his lung function is good.
Due to his weakened lung function, Zane has missed appointments.
Dr Shyamali Dharmage, from Murdoch Children’s and the University of Melbourne, said the findings would help clinicians tailor patient care.
A clinical immunology or allergy specialist should manage and educate kids with food allergies.
Children with food allergies should also be watched for symptoms, because poorly controlled asthma is a risk factor for severe food-induced allergic reactions and anaphylaxis.