Food Allergies Aren't As Common Among Siblings As You Thought

First Posted: Nov 05, 2015 06:54 PM EST

If one child in a family is allergic to a certain food, it doesn't mean that his or her sibling would also be allergic to it, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that while 53 percent of siblings in the study showed a food sensitivity to the substance that their brother or sister was allergic to, only 13 percent had an actual food allergy.

During the study, researchers analyzed data on over 1,000 children who had a sibling with a food allergy, which is classified as a dangerous immune system reaction to a certain food when eating or being near it, according to Health Day. An allergic response to a food can range from vomiting and stomach cramps, to shortness of breath, wheezing, hives, tightness in the throat, dizziness and potentially feeling faint. 

"The risk of food allergy in one sibling, based on the presence of food allergy in another, has never been completely clear," Matthew Greenhawt, allergist and study co-author, said in a statement. "This perceived risk is a common reason to seek 'screening' before introducing a high-risk allergen to siblings. But screening a child before introducing a high-risk allergen isn't recommended. Food allergy tests perform poorly in terms of being able to predict future risk in someone who has never eaten the food before. Our study showed that testing should be limited in order to help confirm a diagnosis, rather than as a sole predictor to make a diagnosis."

However, the findings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, officials say.

The study results were presented at The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting.

Statistics show that 15 million Americans have food allergies with 1 in every 13 children in the United States living with one, according to Food Allergy Research Education (FARE). The organization notes that eight foods are responsible for nearly 90 percent of food allergies including cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat and soy.

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