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Food Allergies May Stunt Kids' Growth

Update Date: Feb 26, 2013 11:51 AM EST

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, 15 million Americans have food allergies. Of the total, 2.2 million of them are children and the number is rising. Fortunately, many children will outgrow their food allergies. Still, on top of needing to avoid certain foods, kids with food allergies often report being bullied because of their allergies. Now, a new study reports that food allergies may affect children's growth. Conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the study found that a diet impacted by food allergies may affect children's body mass index (BMI) and weight significantly as early as the age of two.

According to MedPage Today, the study looked at the charts of 5,037 children who had been evaluated at the University of North Carolina pediatric clinics. The charts began at the age of 1 to 11 months; researchers tracked the charts for five years. Included in the study sample were 245 children who had one more food allergy, which included peanut, eggs and milk, for the researchers' purposes; they were compared with 4,584 healthy controls, 106 controls with cystic fibrosis and 102 controls with celiac disease.

Within the disease groups, the majority or plurality of the children were Caucasian: 48.6 percent of the children with food allergies, 90.3 percent of the children with cystic fibrosis and 84.3 percent of the children with celiac disease. Among the age-matched healthy controls, 25 percent of the children were Caucasian, 35.4 percent of the children were African American or black and 39.6 percent of the children were another race.

They found that over the age of two, the children with food allergies were in BMI and weight percentiles that were significantly lower than their peers. In addition, the more food allergies a child had, the more severely their weight and BMI were impacted. Children with only one or two food allergies fared significantly better than children with more than two food allergies.

According to HealthDay, the children with milk allergies fared the worst. Children who were allergic to milk had significantly lower BMI and weight. Not coincidentally, children with milk allergies were also more likely to have other food allergies.

The study was presented at the annual meeting for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Researchers at the same conference recently presented findings of a study that found that children who had been born via Caesarean section were more likely to suffer from allergies.

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