June 25 (UPI) -- If children have known skin, food and respiratory allergies, they should be screened for a food allergy causing inflammation in the esophagus, according to a study.
Researchers, after studying children from birth to adolescence, said eosinophilic esophagitis in the food tube between the mouth and stomach should be considered part of the "allergic march" of allergies kids develop. Their findings were published Monday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
This is the first time EoE was determined to be linked to the "allergic march," researchers said.
"The more allergies a child has, the higher is that child's risk of developing EoE," Dr. David Hill, an allergist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a press release. "The connection among these allergies suggests a common underlying biological cause, and also may imply that if we can successfully treat an earlier type of allergy, we may prevent later allergies."
EoE occurs in an estimated 1 in 1,500 children and it is often genetically related, according an information sheet from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Symptoms include pain in swallowing, reflux, stomach ache and food lodged in the esophagus.
Unlike potentially life-threatening food allergies, including peanuts, EoE has a low death rate from ingesting foods.
Specific foods trigger both types allergies but allergists don't quickly find the source for EoE. The child may be on a restricted diet until the source is determined, including milk, eggs, wheat, soy, beef, children, potato and corn.
Researchers said the allergy may misdiagnosed or undiagnosed into adolescence.
In "allergic march," children typically progress from a skin allergy, such as atopic dermatitis, then a anaphylactic food allergy and followed by respiratory allergy, such as asthma.
Researchers analyzed health records for 130,435 patients in the Pennsylvania pediatric network from birth to adolescence. They attempted to determine whether and when patients acquired allergic diseases. They also compared the risk of developing EoE between allergic and non-allergic children.
A total of 139 children developed EoE during the observation period.
EoE's peak age for diagnosis was 2.6 years, compared with four months for AD, 1 year for immunoglobulin-mediated food allergy, 1.1 years for asthma and 2.1 years for allergic rhinitis.
"We found that if children had three allergies other than EoE, they were nine times more likely to develop EoE than children with no pre-existing allergies," Hill said.
They found that children with EoE had a higher risk than those without EoE of developing the respiratory allergy allergic rhinitis, which is commonly referred to as seasonal allergy.
"Ultimately, we hope to find that intervening earlier in the allergic march, for example, in treating allergic skin conditions, may interrupt the march and prevent the child from developing later disorders such as EoE," Hill said.