The impact of food allergy on asthma in children

Published Online: September, 2013

The burden of asthma in urban school-aged children is high. Studies suggest that food allergy has increased in prevalence, and often children with food allergies also have asthma. However, the interrelationship between food allergy and asthma is not well understood.
A recent NIH/NIAID funded study from Friedlander et al, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice studied the impact of food allergy on a cohort of urban, elementary school-aged children with asthma. Three hundred students with a diagnosis of asthma were enrolled in the School Inner-City Asthma Study (SICAS) over a three-year period. Detailed clinical evaluations were conducted for each student that included detailed demographic data, comprehensive data on asthma severity, food allergy, and health care utilization.

Food allergy was common, with 24% of the asthmatic students having food allergy, and 12% having multiple food allergies. The presence of food allergy was a predictor of higher asthma burden in these inner-city school children. Specifically, students with food allergies and asthma reported more asthma symptoms, were more likely to use asthma controller medications, had higher risk for hospitalization, had more provider visits, and had lower lung function than asthmatic children without food allergy. Associations were stronger in students with multiple food allergies, and remained when adjusting for age, sex, race, income, exposure to tobacco smoke, and history of eczema. The authors conclude that children with asthma and food allergies may require increased surveillance by their physicians and caretakers in order to optimize asthma control. Future school-based studies may be useful to better understand these two highly prevalent allergic diseases.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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