(HealthDay News) — Common allergic conditions, especially food allergy, are associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children, according to a study published online June 8 in JAMA Network Open.

Guifeng Xu, M.D., from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues conducted a population-based cross-sectional study using data from the National Health Interview Survey obtained between 1997 and 2016. The correlation between food allergy, respiratory allergy, and skin allergy and ASD was examined for children aged 3 to 17 years. Data were included for 199,520 children.

The researchers found that 8,734 children had food allergy (weighted prevalence, 4.31 percent), 12.15 percent had respiratory allergy, and 9.91 percent had skin allergy. Overall, 0.95 percent of the children had an ASD diagnosis. The weighted prevalence of reported food, respiratory, and skin allergies was 11.25, 18.73, and 16.81 percent, respectively, in children with ASD, compared with 4.25, 12.08, and 9.84 percent, respectively, for those without. The correlations between allergic conditions and ASD remained significant after adjustment for confounding variables. Comparing children with versus those without allergic conditions, the odds ratios for ASD were increased in association with food allergy, respiratory allergy, and skin allergy (odds ratios, 2.29, 1.28, and 1.50, respectively).

“In a nationally representative sample of U.S. children, a significant and positive association of common allergic conditions, in particular food allergy, with ASD was found,” the authors write.

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