You know that certain traits such as hair color, body type and intelligence are often passed down from generation to generation in families. But are you aware that the same is true for the likelihood of experiencing a rare type of food allergy called eosinophilic esophagitis or EoE?  For people who suffer from this serious condition, a study published in Nature Genetics in March of 2010 now reveals that a master "allergy gene" could actually be to blame.

Facts about EoE

EoE is an allergic reaction that occurs in the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow certain foods and causing them to become stuck on the way down. The problem seems to be the result of inflammation that occurs within the esophagus and is usually brought on by a reaction to the protein allergens contained in common foods such as milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, wheat and seafood.

EoE Symptoms

In infants, the condition presents as excessive spitting up. In adults, the signs of EoE include vomiting, heartburn, swallowing problems and weight loss.

People with EoE often need to eat a special liquid diet in order to prevent or control these symptoms, which in itself can pose many challenges.

Research Findings on the Allergy Gene

To better understand EoE, researchers from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center looked at the gene makeup of children with this condition and compared them to healthy counterparts in order to identify specific markers that could be related to this condition. They determined that a specific region of one chromosome, and a specific gene it contains called TSLP, might be to blame for the problem. This gene, which lines the body's inner and outer surfaces, is passed down in families and seems to be more active in children with EoE. It's also been implemented in other inflammatory allergic conditions including asthma and atopic dermatitis.

More Research is Needed on this Allergy Gene

While more studies are needed to confirm these findings, this research offers hope that in the future new treatment methods may be available to help identify people at risk for EoE and treat the problem, or even head off the condition before it begins.

What You Can Do

In the meantime, if you suffer from EoE, you should talk to your doctor about how best loto manage the symptoms and to avoid foods that can make you sick. You should also stay abreast of the latest research so as more becomes known about this problem, you'll be able to use the information in your best interest. The good news is that within the next few years, you may finally be able to head off your symptoms and keep them from getting in your way.