food allergies may affect kids' growth
Multiple food allergies
may affect kids' growth
Last Updated: 2002-11-18
13:30:53 -0400 (Reuters Health)
By Suzanne Rostler
NEW YORK (Reuters Health)
- Children with two or more food allergies may grow up to be shorter
than their less allergic peers, researchers report.
Their study found that
nearly one quarter of children with at least two food allergies
fell into the 25th percentile for their height-meaning they were
smaller than 75% of their peers--compared with just 5% of children
with one food allergy.
Multiple food allergies
are rare--up to 8% of children develop food allergies within the
first 3 years of life, but few will be allergic to more than one
food, according to the report. Most children will outgrow their
allergies by age 5, the researchers note in the November issue of
the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Nonetheless, the results
highlight the importance of a regular nutrition assessment for allergic
children, who are forced to avoid nutrient-rich foods such as milk
in order to prevent sometimes life-threatening allergic reactions.
Eliminating foods may compromise growth and development.
"My findings confirm
that children with two or more food allergies or a milk allergy
need to have their growth and diet monitored to ensure appropriate
growth and nutrient intake," Lynn Christie from Arkansas Children's
Hospital in Little Rock, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.
Indeed, nutritional counseling
improved calcium intake among all children, she notes. One quarter
of tots with and without allergies consumed less than 67% of the
recommended amounts of the bone-building nutrients calcium and vitamin
"If this continues,
they may be at risk of developing...osteoporosis as older adults,"
She stressed that children
need to eat a variety of foods to make sure they are getting the
range of nutrients they need to grow.
"If a child is allergic
to an important food like milk, the child needs to keep drinking
a safe formula or soy beverage fortified with calcium and vitamin
D," she said.
To investigate the effect
of food allergies on growth, researchers reviewed 3-day food diaries
of nearly 200 children whose average age was roughly 4 years. They
also measured height and weight and calculated body mass, a weight-for-height
Children with an allergy
to cow's milk were less likely to get adequate calcium. Two thirds
of children with food allergies also suffered from eczema, a chronic
skin disorder marked by redness and itching. Eczema has been linked
with poor growth in children, the researchers note.
of the American Dietetic Association 2002;102:1648-1651.
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