Asthma is an extremely common disease, especially with children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention it was estimated that 7.1 million children under 18 suffered from this chronic disorder and 4.1 million had an asthma attack episode in 2011.
A new study conducted by a team of researchers from Ohio found that asthma in children might come with another unpleasant surprise – peanut allergy. One might find it extremely hard to deal with such news, given the fact that peanut allergy is considered to be one of the most the most dangerous food allergies, with an increasing number of children in the U.S. being diagnosed with it. Moreover, it is one of those allergies that are unlikely to be outgrown, so the child might have it for a very long while, even after being diagnosed with it. What is more unsettling is the fact that most parents are perfectly unaware that their kid has this allergy.
The study, whose results will be shown and the American Thoracic Society International Conference held this year, found that there is a connection between the two, as many children who had asthma also tested positive for peanut allergy.
1,517 children’s medical charts from the pediatric pulmonary clinic at Mercy Children’s Hospital (Toledo, Ohio) were examined. The experts analyzed the data to see if they had undergone blood testing for any allergies or if sensitivity to peanuts was listed in their medical record. About ten percent of the children (163) had peanut allergies recorded in their charts and 48.8 percent of them (665) had been tested for it. Out of the 665, more than 22 percent (148 children) tested positive. In half of these cases (53 percent), the families had no idea that their child had such a condition.
How can they not know, one might ask. The answer might reside in the fact that asthma and peanut allergy have very similar symptoms, according to Dr. Robert Cohn, the lead author of the study. For example coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath are symptomatic of both disorders. “Many of the respiratory symptoms of peanut allergy can mirror those of an asthma attack, and vice versa,” Dr. Cohn stated at a press conference.
What is more worrying is the fact that having both a peanut allergy and asthma can be incredibly risky for the child. Some of the medication that is commonly used to treat asthma nowadays is not recommended with people who have peanut allergies. “Coexistence of peanut allergy with asthma could be a risk factor for increased morbidity and mortality,” the authors wrote in an abstract of their paper.
Nevertheless, this is only a preliminary study and more thorough research needs to be done. Obviously, the study has certain limitations, given the fact that they only analyzed the data for the children who had been tested for allergies. Thus, it is not yet certain what the results would have been for those other children who did not take the test. However, the study is meant to raise awareness among parents who identify inexplicable symptoms in their children who have asthma.
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