Children’s Health Environmental

Food Allergies Among Black Children

Food allergies and Black children

Black children have even more probability of having an allergy along with the severe consequences when compared to others. Black children may suffer from multiple food allergies and their parents are worried about the impact they have on the quality of life their children live under the influence of more than one form of food allergies.

An overview of the problematic situation

This is not only a matter of omitting a few ingredients from daily foods or reading the labels of packaged food items carefully. There is a lot more to deal with. In New York City, two residents at Seventh Avenue center for family services in Harlem uncovered while working to manage food allergies among children that Black people with children having food allergies also acknowledge that they have asthma as well.

Food allergies occur in the form of a reaction from the human body’s immune system to certain types of edible ingredients. These allergies tend to affect the health of a person to a great extent. Sometimes they have slight consequences such as itchy sensations, skin rashes, and swelling. Other times, the allergic reactions are life-threatening (ie, anaphylaxis that causes difficulties in breathing).

From disease to ethnicity

Imagine the occurrence of itch on the mouth, throat, and nose of a child who may not be able to interpret what is happening. It pushes the children into shock and anxious experiences. Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are the most common allergens. Children, who are in severe need of consuming protein for the nourishment and development of a healthy body and mind, perceive this nutritious food as enemies due to allergies.

In the United States, 1 out of 17 children have at least one form of food allergy. The diagnosis rate is 5.8% and based on a population analysis in 2021, 7.6% of Black children are affected. The rate is alarming and as young as 3 years of age is the onset of an allergy among the Black community. The fatality rate due to food allergy is 75% in this specific group.

In this condition, the human body begins to interpret proteins found in eaten food as a threat to survival and prepares itself to attack the system. Several chemicals are released during this process and they elicit the allergic reaction symptoms. Data from the population in the United States illustrated those infants who are diagnosed with eczema, a skin disease, will be more likely to develop a food allergy in the later years of life.

The burden of a variety of food allergens on Black children

When compared to white children, allergies to shellfish are higher among Black children. Many reasons interact to cause an allergy. However, it is commonly believed that the urban setting is responsible for the discovery of a large variety of allergens in innocent human lives. Most of the affected population is spending their time in poor living conditions. The exposure to infections and disease-causing insects is unavoidable. Recent research has shown that these factors have a strong link with food allergies among Black children. It has been observed that high income is related to lower rates of allergies.

The results of the prevalence of food allergies among the Black community stayed the highest when the data was compared with Asian and Hispanic children. Although irrespective of gender differences, the types of foods also differ when age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status differ. There is evidence of allergies among Black children that are badly triggered because of salmon, halibut, tuna, and eggs. More than 170 foods are allergic so far. Additionally, the already existing and co-occurring inflammatory condition makes it hard for the body to protect from absorbing a wide variety of allergens.

Relationship with perinatal incidents

Studies further investigated that deeply rooted problem origin comes to the surface as early as the child steps into this world. Babies who are delivered by Cesarean are another predictor for catching food allergies at a younger age among the Black community. Allergy consultants and related experts in the field from all over the world highlight cesarean birth as another indicator for allergies because it stops the infant from being exposed to germs within the birth canal that are beneficial for his or her lifelong immunity.

Etiological factors have been a topic of debate for food allergies. The outbursts of the factors that remain controversial are routine. The role of nutrients supplied to infants and the role of the season in which an infant is born is discussed in a paper on Black children of Boston from 2011. The authors explained that the development of such diseases strikes with seasonal patterns change. For example, the lack of ultraviolet B light exposure during fall or winter automatically causes a decline in the status of vitamin D levels that contributes to the pathogenesis of food allergy in early childhood. They concluded that food allergies commonly hit during the period when seasonal fluctuations such as sunlight deprivation are involved and vitamin D exacerbates it.

There is hope, look forward!

What can be done? This is the question that we need to seek a response to. Let’s review the list of options-

  • There must be an end to disparities when health issues arise, it is a universal human right
  • Testing and diagnosis are mandatory for the next steps
  • Early intervention facilities and treatment plans must be considered and follow-ups with monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the proposed treatment must be done regularly
  • Awareness to identify triggers and allergic symptoms must be spread to an individual level
  • Training series for the management of conditions must be given every year at a national level

To reduce the serious effects of a developed allergy, this is very important to understand that avoiding food consumption that may cause allergy symptoms is the always-available method to access for prevention of worsening of the condition and reaction. It is best to follow a predetermined natural food routine and keep it less flexible to daily experience a new packaged food with a risk of fatal consequences. Stay safe, Amen!

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About the author

Dr. Nazish Idrees Chaudhary

Dr. Nazish Idrees Chaudhary is a registered clinical psychologist. Holding a doctorate, she is currently working as an assistant professor at The University of Lahore and working as a Director of Operations at the Grace Rehabilitation Center. She has been working with people around the world, including minorities and those with special needs. Her culturally sensitive approach in clinical settings for the last 12 years and diverse experience made her a unique writer in this field

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