An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that's harmless to most people. But in someone with an allergy, the body's immune system treats the substance (called an allergen) as an invader and reacts inappropriately, resulting in symptoms that can be anywhere from annoying to possibly harmful to the person.
In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system of the allergic person produces antibodies. Those antibodies then cause allergy cells in the body to release chemicals, , into the bloodstream to defend against the allergen “invader.”
One in 10 inner-city kids allergic to milk, eggs or peanuts
Already known for their higher-than-usual risk of asthma and environmental allergies, young inner-city children appear to suffer disproportionately from food allergies as well, according to results of a study led by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
The federally funded multi-center study, described online Aug. 13 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that at least one in 10 children from four large U.S. cities has a food allergy. However, the true number may be even higher, the investigators say, because the study used highly stringent criteria and counted only the three most common food allergies.
“Our findings are a wake-up call, signaling an urgent need to unravel the causes, contributors and mechanisms that drive the high prevalence of food allergies among an already vulnerable group known for its high risk of asthma and environmental allergies,” says …
The study followed 516 inner city kids from birth to age five in Baltimore, Boston, New York City and St. Louis. They were labeled anywhere from sensitive to foods to allergic to foods. And more than half were considered at least sensitive and 10 percent had a full-blown allergy.
Peanuts were the most common allergen, followed by eggs and then milk.
Breastfed children had the highest risk for developing food allergies. Those exposed to certain types of bacteria because they weren't excessively cleaned from the house were less likely.
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