Many children with asthma have an undiagnosed peanut allergy or sensitivity. And that may lead to a worsening of asthma symptoms and more frequent asthma attacks.

Researchers at Dayton Children’s Hospital studied more than 1,500 children with asthma and tested them for allergy to peanuts. About one in four kids with asthma turned out to have some degree of sensitivity and allergy, but half of them and their parents did not know it. When asked, they didn’t link an increase in wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath to exposure to peanuts.

And that can cause problems, since exposure to peanuts can obviously worsen asthma. It can also masquerade as asthma –and there are some medications typically used in asthma that we tend to avoid in children with nut allergies.

Incidentally, the rate of peanut allergies in children has tripled over the past decade, although we don’t know why.

The takeaway is simple: if you have a child with asthma, particular asthma that seems difficult to control, it might be a good idea to have your doctor check them for peanut sensitivity. The connection may not seem obvious so testing is recommended.

Here’s more information on peanut allergies: acaai.org/allergies/

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida

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