Siblings of kids with food allergies aren't any more likely to also exhibit allergies themselves.

By Gillie Houston
Updated May 24, 2017
© Getty Images/Glow RM

Many siblings exhibit similar traits when it comes to personality and behavior, but a new study says one shared trait parents shouldn't have to worry about is allergies. A report published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that siblings of kids with food allergies aren't any more likely to also exhibit allergies themselves.

According to researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, out of a test group of 1,120 children, 53 percent of siblings of children with food allergies experienced a food sensitization but did not experience the same allergy symptoms, and an additional one-third of those tested had no allergic reactions to food whatsoever. These amounts are comparable to the general population, showing that just because one kid suffers from allergies, doesn't guarantee their siblings will as well.

"Our data suggests that the risk of food allergy in siblings of an affected child is only minimally higher than in the general population," says lead author Ruchi Gupta, MD, who is a pediatrician and researcher at the Children's Hospital of Chicago and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Northwestern. "Our findings help support the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases practice guidelines to not screen siblings before the child's initial exposure to a food," Gupta adds.

According to Science Daily, researchers expressed concern that parents of children with food allergies might test their other children prematurely out of fear they'll develop the same allergies. However, Gupta cautions against this. "Routine screening without a history of allergic food reactions might lead to unnecessary food avoidance in kids who can actually tolerate that food," she says, which ultimately "impacts quality of life and nutrition."

In fact, in the course of this study, Gupta and her team of researchers "observed that testing might show sensitization to peanuts in a child who has never had peanuts... but that might not mean that eating a peanut will provoke allergic symptoms." Though having a sibling with an allergy won't increase a child's chance of also having that allergy, Gupta cautions that one extraneous measure will, saying: "Food avoidance also increases the risk of developing an allergy to that food."