Child has asthma? Ask pediatrician to test for peanut allergy

June 9, 2015 | News, Research, UTMC
By Brandi Barhite

Children with asthma should be tested for a peanut allergy or sensitivity, according to research conducted by a former resident at UT Health.



Dr. Anas Al-Yazji, who was a resident at UT Health from 2010 to 2013, co-authored a study that found children with asthma might benefit from such testing — and parents should ask for it because it isn’t routine for pediatricians to suggest it.

“Asthma is one of the most common diseases in pediatrics, while a peanut allergy or sensitivity can lead to one of the most severe allergic reactions,” he said. “It can be particularly dangerous for asthmatics if they are not prepared.”

The study, led by his mentor Dr. Robert Cohen, looked at 1,517 children who were treated for respiratory problems. Cohen, who at the time worked at Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo, presented May 17 at the American Thoracic Society’s international conference in Denver.

Al-Yazji combed through file after file to determine how prevalent peanut allergies were in asthmatics. The link became apparent.

“In general, asthmatics tend to have other allergies like food allergies and skin allergies,” he said. “Peanut allergies are usually more serious because sufferers can have an extreme anaphylactic reaction where they cannot breathe.”

Al-Yazji, who is a pediatrician at Family Care Partners in Jacksonville, Fla., said the study has changed the way he treats asthmatics.

“We recommend that doctors run a blood test called an ImmunoCap to see if their patients are sensitive or allergic to peanuts,” Al-Yazji said. “If they are, doctors should send them home with an EpiPen.”

He added, “It is good to see your hard work pay off. I spent a lot of time working on this. I went through every single chart.”

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