Millions Awarded to Study New Approaches to Food Allergies

peanutsWASHINGTON–The National Institutes of Health intends to award $42.7 million to the Consortium of Food Allergy Research to evaluate new approaches to food allergies, a growing problem among black children.

The funds will be awarded over seven years to CoFar so scientists can develop immunotherapy approaches to treat food allergies, conditions in which the immune system reacts abnormally to a component of a food, according to NIH.

Symptoms can range from hives or stomach cramps and anaphylaxis, which swells the larynx, making it difficult to breathe.

About 4 percent of adults and 5 percent of children in the United States suffer from food allergies.

A 2014 study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, reported that black children suffer from food allergies at a much higher rate than white children, but scientists are not sure of the cause.

Researchers analyzed 452,237 children from 1988 to 2011. Of these children, it found that food allergy increased among black children at a rate of 2.1 percent per decade, 1.2 percent among Hispanics and 1 percent among whites.milk-carton-thumbnail

“Our research found a striking food allergy trend that needs to be further evaluated to discover the cause,” said Corinne Keet, MD, MS, lead study author and assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. “Although African Americans generally have higher levels of IgE, the antibody the immune system creates more of when one has an allergy, it is only recently they have reported food allergy more frequently than white children.”

Individuals can be allergic to peanuts, soy, eggs, milk and other dairy products, wheat, corn, tree nuts and other foods.

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