Teens who had asthma and food hypersensitivity when they were younger are at increased risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), researchers report.
For the study, the investigators examined the health of 2,770 children from birth to age 16. Kids with IBS at age 16 were more likely to have had asthma at age 12 (about 11% versus 7%).
In addition, the researchers found that 16-year-olds with IBS were more likely to have had food hypersensitivity at age 12 (41% versus 29%).
Asthma, food hypersensitivity and eczema (a condition that makes your skin red and itchy) were all associated with an increased risk of concurrent IBS at age 16, the findings showed.
"The associations found in this large study suggest there's a shared pathophysiology between common allergy-related diseases and adolescent irritable bowel syndrome," said study leader Jessica Sjölund, of the Institute of Medicine at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden.
Sjölund noted that previous studies on allergy-related diseases and IBS have been contradictory.
These new findings could lead to development of new treatments for adolescent IBS, targeting processes of low-grade inflammation seen in the allergy-related diseases, she said.
The study findings were scheduled for presentation Monday at a United European Gastroenterology virtual meeting. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
IBS affects more than one in 10 people and is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder, the study authors noted in a meeting news release. It can cause abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, and can be extremely disabling for patients.
Hans Törnblom is a leading IBS expert in Europe who was involved in the research. He said, "Even though functional gastrointestinal disorders are common, many patients are, unfortunately, negatively stigmatized and labeled. The fact that many IBS sufferers do not seek medical advice should be of great concern."
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on IBS.