Some people say that if one child in a family has a food allergy, chances are that the siblings might also have food allergies. But according to a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, siblings of an affected child are not more likely to have food allergies.
“The risk… is only minimally higher than in the general population.”
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“Our data suggest that the risk of food allergy in siblings of an affected child is only minimally higher than in the general population,” said the study’s lead author Ruchi Gupta, MD. “We also observed that testing might show sensitization to peanuts in a child who has never had peanuts, for example, but that might not mean that eating a peanut will provoke allergic symptoms in that child.”
The study by the Northwestern University found that out of a test group of 1,120 children, the majority (53%) of siblings of affected children displayed symptoms of food sensitisation, but did not experience food allergy symptoms. Also, one-third of siblings tested negative and had no allergic reactions to food, while only 13.6% had a true food allergy.
“Food avoidance increases the risk of developing an allergy to that food.”
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The researchers expressed concern that parents of children with food allergies would make their other kids abstain from certain foods out of fear. “Routine screening without a history of allergic food reactions might lead to unnecessary food avoidance in kids who can actually tolerate that food, which impacts the quality of life and nutrition,” Gupta said.
A note for parents of kids with food allergies: don’t make your other kids abstain from certain foods out of fear, as that may even increase your child’s chance of having an allergy. Gupta continued: “Food avoidance also increases the risk of developing an allergy to that food.”
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