FOOD allergies could be down to genetics after scientists found a new gene associated with peanut allergy.

The breakthrough provides further evidence genes play a role in the development of food allergies. It could help identify those at risk of an allergy and lead to new treatments.

It is estimated one in every 14 British children under three has at least one food allergy. Most are allergic to milk, eggs, soya and wheat in childhood but grow out of it by the time they start school.

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Yet allergies to peanut and tree nut allergies persist and an estimated four out of five children with peanut allergies remain allergic to peanuts for the rest of their lives.

For reasons that are unclear rates of food allergies have risen sharply in the past 20 years.

Associate Professor Dr Denise Daley at The University of British Columbia said: “Food allergy is the result of both genetic and environmental factors, but there are surprisingly few data regarding the genetic basis of this condition.

“The discovery of this genetic link gives us a fuller picture of the causes of food allergies, and this could eventually help doctors identify children at risk.”