Background: Epidemiological data on food allergy are scarce in African countries. We studied the prevalence of food sensitization in Ghanaian schoolchildren.
Methods: Children (5-16 years; n = 1,714) from 9 Ghanaian schools were given parental consent to participate in the study. Adverse reactions and food consumption were determined by a questionnaire and atopy by skin prick testing (SPT) to peanut and 6 fruits. Subjects with positive SPTs were considered cases (n = 43) and matched with at least 1 control (n = 84), using age, sex, and school as matching criteria. Serum samples from case-control sets were analyzed for specific IgE (sIgE) to foods that elicited a positive SPT response in cases.
Results: Overall, 11% of 1,407 children reported adverse reactions to foods, and 5% of 1,431 children showed a positive SPT reaction mostly directed against peanut and pineapple (both 2%). Although there was a positive association between adverse reactions and SPT responses to any food allergen in the urban children (adjusted OR = 3.6, 95% CI 1.2-10.8), most of the reported adverse reactions were not in children showing an SPT reaction to the specific food item. sIgE sensitization was very variable for the different foods, ranging from 0 to 100% in cases, and from 0 to 25% among controls. High IgE levels for a food item significantly increased the risk of SPT positivity to any food item in the urban, but not in the rural, schoolchildren.
Conclusions: Specific foods were identified to be allergenic in Ghana. We show a good association between SPT and sIgE in urban, but not in rural, schoolchildren. However, there was no clear association between reported adverse reactions to food and SPT or sIgE.
Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.