Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Take: food allergies double in children

Courtesy of Reuters

One in 12 kids in the United States may have a food allergy, according to new findings in the June 20th issue of Pediatrics. This is double the current government estimate. Making matters worse was that more than one third of those kids had severe allergies. Allergies are a particularly difficult chronic condition because kids can't escape food in any part of their daily lives, said lead author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "What I hope this paper will do is open this awareness to how common (food allergy) is and how severe it can be, and develop policies for schools and sporting events and any activities that kids participate in to make it clear that everybody is looking out for these kids," she told Reuters Health.

Gupta and her colleagues focused solely on the rate and severity of food allergies. They surveyed a nationally representative sample of almost 40,000 U.S. adults who lived with a child under 18.

Eight percent of kids had a diagnosed food allergy or convincing symptoms that indicated an allergy - almost 6 million U.S. Kids were most commonly allergic to peanuts, milk, and shellfish. 2 in 5 kids who had allergies had a severe reaction or a life-threatening reaction.

Bonnie - here is the scary thing. If these numbers are increasing exponentially just for food ALLERGY, imagine how many children have food INTOLERANCE, which is way more common. And while the symptoms can be more subtle, food intolerance can be just as devastating because constant exposure leads to chronic conditions. My advice to any person who suspects their child has a food allergy: by all means, rule them out. That is the easy part and any allergist can test for it. The tougher part is to diagnose food intolerance, which requires someone with expertise to diagnose the intolerance(s) and implement the correct therapy. Most allergists do not believe in it or test for it.

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