People with food allergies are prone to suffer from asthma attacks, reports a new study.
Food allergies are more common among people with asthma and may contribute to asthma attacks, according to one of the most comprehensive surveys of food allergies.
Andrew H. Liu of National Jewish Health and his colleagues also suggested that food allergies are more prevalent among children, males and non-Hispanic blacks.
"Our study suggests that food allergies may be an important factor, and even an under-recognized trigger for severe asthma exacerbations. People with a food allergy and asthma should closely monitor both conditions and be aware that they might be related," said Liu.
The researchers analysed data from 8,203 people, aged 1 to greater than 60, who completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2005-2006, and had their blood tested for antibodies to four specific foods: peanuts, milk, eggs and shrimp.
Depending on the IgE antibody levels found in participants' blood, they were categorized as sensitised to one or more of the foods or not sensitised.
The sensitised participants were subdivided into those with an unlikely (10-20 percent), possible (50 percent) and likely (greater than 95 percent) chance of having food allergies.
Likely food allergies were twice as common among participants who had ever received an asthma diagnosis as among those with no asthma diagnosis.
Those who currently have asthma were 3.8 times as likely to have food allergies as those who had previously been diagnosed with the disease but no longer had it.
Those who had visited an emergency department for asthma in the past year were almost seven times as likely to have food allergies as those who had ever been diagnosed with asthma but not visited an emergency department.
Overall, 15.8 percent of participants who had visited the emergency department for asthma had IgE levels indicating possible or likely food allergies.
Researchers could not determine if food allergies actually cause asthma attacks or if asthma and food allergies are both manifestations of a severe allergic profile.
The findings were reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.