A study by Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has found that babies with food allergies are more likely to have asthma and reduced lung function later in childhood.
The study, published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, looked at data from 5,276 infants and found that those with a food allergy were almost four times more likely to have developed asthma at six years of age. They were also more likely to have reduced lung function.
The researchers say that the findings are concerning, given that reduced lung growth in childhood is associated with health problems in adulthood, including respiratory and heart conditions. They believe that the link between food allergy and lung function may be because children with food allergies tend to be shorter and lighter than their peers, and that there are similar immune responses involved in the development of both conditions.
The study’s authors say that the findings should help clinicians to tailor patient care and encourage greater vigilance around monitoring respiratory health in children with food allergies. They also say that parents should be vigilant for asthma symptoms in children with food allergy, as poorly controlled asthma is a risk factor for severe food-induced allergic reactions and anaphylaxis.
Reference: Peters et al. Infant food allergy phenotypes and association with lung function deficits and asthma at age 6 years: a population-based, prospective cohort study in Australia. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. Vol. 7 (9) 2023, Pp. 636-647. DOI: 10.1016/S2352-4642(23)00133-5.