Could Children with Allergies Have An Increased Risk of Heart Disease?
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), 8.3 million American children have respiratory allergies, 9.5 American children have skin allergies and nearly 6 million children in the U.S. have food allergies. Though the organization reports that early identification of childhood allergies can improve the child’s quality of life and reduce the number of missed school days, a new study is advising parents to get their children screened more aggressively for high cholesterol and high blood pressure because those factors can set them on a dangerous path at a very early age.
The study, set to be published on December 8th, 2015 in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, concluding report states, “Children with allergies, particularly asthma and hay fever, have about twice the rate of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, setting them on a course for heart disease at a surprisingly early age. Even when the study controlled for obesity, children with allergic disease has a much higher risk.”
Lead study author, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, an associate professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine dermatologist says, “This study shows that cardiovascular risk starts far earlier in life than we ever realized. Given how common these allergic diseases are in childhood, it suggests we need to screen these children more aggressively to make sure we are not missing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There may be an opportunity to modify their lifestyles and turn this risk around.”
Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is the most common allergic reaction in children in the United States. Symptoms, according to the ACAAI, including runny and itchy nose, sneezing, postnasal drip and nasal congestion. Allergies can also cause nasal congestion, ear infections, and ailments to particular foods.
Silverberg and his team of researchers studied associations between asthma, hay fever and eczema in the U.S. against cardiovascular risk factors. Data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey of 13,275 children from all 50 states was used in the study. According to the study’s findings, asthma occurred in 14% of children, eczema in 12% and hay fever in 16.6% of children. All three factors were associated with higher rates of overweight or obese children.
Dr. Jonathan Silverberg explains, “Because the association with hypertension and high cholesterol exists separately from obesity, inflammation occurring in asthma and hay fever might contribute to higher rates of cardiovascular disease. Also, children with profound asthma are typically more sedentary, which also may have a harmful effect and drive up blood pressure.”
To find an allergist near you, visit the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s website, here: http://acaai.org/locate-an-allergist. Speak to your child’s pediatrician for more information.