SYDNEY, July 26: Having a food allergy as a baby is linked to asthma and reduced lung function later in childhood, according to research led by Australia’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI).
The research, published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, found that early-life food allergy was associated with an increased risk of both asthma and reduced lung growth at six years of age.
The research involved 5,276 one-year-old infants from Melbourne, the capital of the Australian state of Victoria. They were given skin prick testing for four food allergens, including egg, peanut, sesame and either shrimp or cow’s milk, and oral food challenge, including egg, peanut, and sesame.
At the age of six, 3233 of them completed the follow-up health assessment on food allergy and lung function.
The study found by six years of age, 13.7 percent of the participants reported a diagnosis of asthma. Babies with a food allergy were almost four times more likely to develop asthma at six years of age, compared to children without a food allergy.
The impact was greatest in children whose food allergy persisted to age six as opposed to those who had outgrown their allergy.
It also stated that children with a food allergy were also more likely to have reduced lung function. Lung development is related to a child’s height and weight, and children with a food allergy can be shorter and lighter compared to their peers without an allergy, explained Rachel Peters, associated professor at MCRI.
Peters pointed out that food allergy in infancy, whether it is resolved or not, is linked to poorer respiratory outcomes in children and is associated with health problems such as respiratory and heart conditions in adulthood.
She suggested the growth of infants with food allergies should be monitored, and children suffering from food allergies are encouraged to be cared for by a dietician to ensure they can get nutrition for healthy growth.