Growth comparison in children with and without food allergies in 2 different demographic populations

Harshna Mehta, Manish Ramesh, Elizabeth Feuille, Marion Groetch, Julie Wang
Journal of Pediatrics 2014, 165 (4): 842-8

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of food avoidance on the growth of children with food allergies.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective chart review was performed for children with and without food allergies followed at 2 New York City general pediatric practices. Charts were selected based on codes from the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, for well child visit, food allergy, anaphylaxis, and/or epinephrine autoinjector prescriptions. Heights and weights were obtained to calculate body mass index, height, and weight z-scores.

RESULTS: Of the 9938 children seen, 439 (4.4%) were avoiding one or more foods. Of those with commercial insurance, children with food allergies were significantly shorter (mean height z-score = 0.06; P = .01) and weighed less (mean weight z-score -0.1; P = .006) than children without food allergies (mean height z-score = 0.42; mean weight z-score = 0.07). In contrast, children with food allergies and state insurance were not smaller in height or weight compared with children without food allergies. Among white subjects, there was a significant effect of food allergies on height and weight (ANOVA for height P = .012, for weight P = .0036) that was not observed for Hispanic/Latino, black, or Asian subjects. Children with allergies to milk weighed significantly less than children without milk allergies (P = .0006).

CONCLUSIONS: Children with food allergies and commercial insurance have significant impairment in growth compared with those without food allergies. Additionally, children avoiding all forms of milk are shorter and weigh less than matched counterparts. Therefore, height and weight measurements should be assessed routinely in children with food allergies because there is risk for growth impairment in this population.

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