New research has found that asthmatic children have a good chance of being allergic to peanuts, but their parents may not know it because of the similarity of symptoms.

Peanut allergies, although common, are quite mysterious, as researchers still try to explain how they develop and how they can be prevented. However, for children with asthma, it can be difficult to recognize the symptoms of peanut allergies as well, making it harder for them to avoid getting allergic attacks when they take in peanuts or any food with peanuts in it.

A team of U.S. researchers led by Dr. Robert Cohn has conducted a study that tries to establish the link between peanut allergies and childhood asthma. They found out that a considerable portion of children who were asthmatic were also sensitive to peanuts, but they were not aware of it because the symptoms of both conditions are very similar.

"Many of the respiratory symptoms of peanut allergy can mirror those of an asthma attack, and vice versa," said Dr. Cohn in a statement released by the American Thoracic Society (ATS). "Examples of these symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. This study aimed to evaluate the proportion of asthmatic children who also demonstrated a sensitivity to peanuts."

To arrive at their conclusion, the researchers looked at the medical records of more than 1,500 children at the pulmonary clinic of the Mercy Children's Hospital in Toledo, Ohio to see if they have a documented history of peanut allergies or have undergone a testing for a specific antibody, called lgE, which is released in reaction to peanuts.

The researchers found out that more than one out of 10 children with asthma had a history of being sensitive to peanuts, and almost 44 percent of all children had undergone testing for lgE. Out of all those children, 22 percent were tested positive for peanut allergies, but more than half of the parents of all children who had gone through testing thought the symptoms were asthma instead of peanut sensitivity.

Dr. Cohn recommends that parents have their children tested for peanut allergies, especially if they are having difficulty trying to control coughing or wheezing.

"If a physician is having this problem, or if a parent notices it in his or her asthmatic child, they should consider testing, even if they believe their child is not sensitive to peanuts," he advised. "There should be continued investigation to learn more about the connection between asthmatic children and peanut sensitivity."

The study will be presented at the ATS 2015 International Conference to be held Thursday in Denver.

Photo: Stacy Spensley | Flickr

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