Food Allergy Sensitization and Presentation in Siblings of Food Allergic Children

Gupta, R. S.; Walkner, M. M.; Greenhawt, M.; Lau, C. H.; Caruso, D.; Wang, X.; Pongracic, J. A.; Smith, B.

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2016 Jul 17; 4(5):956-62

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Many parents of food allergic children have concerns about the development of food allergies in their other children. OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine prevalence of food sensitization and clinical food allergy among siblings of food allergic children. METHODS: Two thousand eight hundred and thirty-four children were enrolled in the Chicago Family Cohort Food Allergy study. One thousand one hundred and twenty children (ages 0-21 years) with a food allergy (defined by a reported reaction history and evidence of food-specific IgE or skin prick test) and at least 1 biological sibling were included in this study. RESULTS: Among siblings of children with food allergy, 33.4% had no sensitization and no clinical symptoms to food. Fifty-three percent had a positive food serum-specific IgE or skin prick test, but no reported symptoms of food allergy. Only 13.6% of siblings were both sensitized and clinically reactive to the same food. Milk allergy was the most common allergy among siblings (5.9%), followed by egg allergy (4.4%) and peanut allergy (3.7%). CONCLUSIONS: In a large cohort of food allergic families, only a small proportion of siblings were both sensitized and clinically reactive to a food. Sensitization without reactivity was common among siblings. Testing for food allergy in siblings without a history of clinical reactivity appears to be unjustified. Screening may lead to negative consequences related to potential misdiagnosis and unnecessary avoidance of a food. More data are needed to determine the absolute risk of food allergy development in siblings of food allergic children.

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