Aim: To investigate the prevalence of reported food allergy and its association with atopic diseases and asthma severity among Jewish and Arab adolescents.
Subjects and methods: The self-report questionnaire of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) was administered to adolescents aged 13–14 years from randomly selected junior high schools in Israel. Questions regarding food allergy were added.
Results: A total of 11 171 questionnaires were available for analysis. Food allergy was reported by 3.6% of participants: 1.9% milk, 0.6% egg, 0.6% peanut and 0.4% sesame. On multivariate analysis, food allergy was strongly associated with current asthma (OR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.8–3.3), atopic eczema (OR, 3.2; 95% CI, 2.4–4.3) and allergic rhinitis (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.8–3.1). Arabs were significantly more allergic to peanut (OR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.5–4.1), egg (OR, 3.5; 95% CI, 2.1–5.9) and sesame (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.2–4.5) than Jews, and less allergic to milk (OR, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.4–0.9). Asthmatic subjects with food allergy had significantly more parameters of severe asthma than those without food allergy (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: The prevalence of allergy to specific foods differs between Jews and Arabs. Asthmatic adolescents with food allergy report more severe asthma than those without food allergy.