HealthDay News — Food allergy and sensitization incidence is high among inner-city children, according to researchers.

“Previous data suggest that food allergy might be more common in inner-city children; however, these studies have not collected data on both sensitization and clinical reactivity or early-life exposures,” wrote Emily C. McGowan, MD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

To measure levels of specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) to milk, egg, and peanut in 516 patients, the investigators followed participants in the Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma birth cohort. Patients’ IgE levels were measured at one, two, three, and five years.

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Patients were classified as having food allergy, being possibly allergic, sensitized but tolerant, and/or not allergic/not sensitized (IgE ≥0.35 kU/L).

Of the participants, 55.4% were sensitized (milk, 46.7%; egg, 31.0%; peanut, 20.9%), while 9.9% were classified as having food allergies (peanut, 6.%; egg, 4.3%; milk, 2.7%; 2.5% to more than one food). Those that were categorized as possibly allergic (17%), 28.5% were sensitized but tolerant, and 44.6% were not sensitized. 

For children with food allergy and sensitized but tolerant children, food-specific IgE levels were similar, except for egg, which had higher levels of food allergies in patients aged 1 and 2 years.

“Even given that this was designed to be a high-risk cohort, the cumulative incidence of food allergy is extremely high, especially considering the strict definition of food allergy that was applied and that only three common allergens were included,” wrote the researchers.


  1. McGowan E et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2014; doi: