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Infants with food allergies may face respiratory challenges in their later years, increasing the likelihood of asthma and diminished lung function, according to Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia.

Food allergies during childhood can lead to asthma

The research team pioneered the investigation into the link between infantile challenge-confirmed food allergies and subsequent asthma and diminished lung health in childhood. The study sought to ascertain whether early food allergies could result in respiratory issues during later years.

In a study of 5,276 infants from HealthNuts, researchers utilized skin prick tests for common allergens and conducted oral food challenges to confirm allergies. Tests were repeated at age six, including lung function tests, providing insights into the persistence and impact of food allergies on children’s health.

The study found that 13.7% of six-year-olds had asthma, with a fourfold increased risk for those with early food allergies. The likelihood rose for children with persistent allergies. Food-allergic kids also showed diminished lung growth.

Reduced childhood lung growth may lead to adult health issues including heart and respiratory conditions. Rachel Peters from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute suggests a link between food allergies, stunted growth, and lung problems. Children with food allergies may be shorter and lighter, affecting lung function compared to peers without allergy problems. Also there is a similar immune response that plays a role in development of asthma and food allergies. Approximately 10% of babies and 5% of older children face food allergies.

Spirometry tests are necessary before food challenges in allergic kids

Suba Slater, a mother of a 15-year-old with food allergies and asthma, stressed the study’s importance. Initially uninformed about the link between allergies and asthma, Slater praised Murdoch Children’s food challenges for assessing her son’s food tolerance. She highlighted the necessity of spirometry tests before challenges due to her son’s weak lungs affecting participation. Dr. Shyamali Dharmage from Murdoch Children’s and the University of Melbourne emphasizes the need for heightened respiratory health monitoring in children with food allergies. She urges medical professionals to regularly assess these children through allergy specialists for effective management and education.