Huff Post reports on worrisome number of reactions from intentional exposure to allergens
Huffington Post, 27 June 2012
Allergies In Children: New Study Finds ‘Worrisome’ Number Of Reactions Result From Intentional Exposure To Allergens
Parents and caretakers may not be doing everything they can to protect young children from allergic reactions, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
The new research, conducted for the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR) and funded in part by The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), focused on children who have allergies to milk and egg and are “being observed for the development of peanut allergy.” Together, these represent three of the eight most common food allergens (along with fish, soy, wheat, shellfish, and tree nuts).
Researchers examined the experiences of 512 infants living near 5 universities and medical centers in New York, Maryland, Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina over three years. Most of the children had a milk or egg allergy; 173 had neither, and 53 had both. (The children are part of an ongoing allergy research project.)
The study -– which is available in full online — found that just over 11% of 834 recorded reactions resulted from intentional exposure to milk, egg or peanut. Researchers called this statistic “worrisome,” noting that the reasons for these intentional exposures were not completely clear. The practice “may reflect parental testing for resolution of allergy,” the study says, adding: “in some cases reactions occurred to a food that was given in a larger amount than before.” Researchers also speculated that the 11% statistic was artificially low, since “parents might have been reluctant to report reactions to purposeful exposures.”
The study’s lead author, Dr. David Fleischer of Denver’s National Jewish Health, told ABC News that a follow-up study will “[go] back to families and [ask] exactly why caretakers were giving these foods on purpose.”
Reactions unrelated to intentional exposure occurred due to factors such as “lack of vigilance,” cross-contact (unintentional mixing of allergens with non-allergens), and the misreading of labels. In just over 50% of instances of allergic reaction, parents were not responsible for providing children with the food in question.
Read the full article here.