Food Allergies May Trigger Asthma

Aug 06, 2004 03:14 AM EDT

New research has cited food allergies as a major cause of severe asthma in children.

Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the British-Israeli study found that 53% of children who suffered a life-threatening asthma attack had food allergies. Of these, most were allergic to nuts, especially peanuts.

Delayed symptoms still dangerous

The team studied 19 children who required emergency treatment for a life-threatening asthma attack, matching each child to two others treated for a non-life-threatening asthma attack. Life-threatening asthma was defined as an asthma attack that resulted in respiratory failure and required ventilator support in an intensive care unit.

Past studies have shown that for some asthma sufferers, the symptoms of a food allergy are delayed and develop over time. Although the symptoms are less obvious, a delayed reaction is no less serious. Delayed reactions can lead to the onset of chronic bronchial asthma. Also, asthmatics who suffer delayed symptoms tend to develop a more severe and inflammatory form of chronic asthma.

Most common reason for hospitalization

Asthma is still the most common reason for children to be hospitalized, affecting five million children under the age of 18, including an estimated 1.3 million children under the age of five. Asthma-related deaths have not decreased, despite innovations in treatment. Approximately 50 children in the U.K. and more than 200 in the U.S die each year from asthma. More than 70% of people with asthma also suffer from allergies.


1. P. Habibi; Lack, G.; Levi-Schaffer, F.; Patel, N.; Roberts, G., “Food Allergy As A Risk Factor For Life-Threatening Asthma In Childhood: A Case-Controlled Study,” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol. 112, No. 1, 168-174.