Q: Just how many kids are affected
by peanut allergy?
A: The percentage of children with peanuts
allergies more than tripled - from 0.4 percent to 1.4 percent -
since 1997, according to a new survey of 5,300 households published
in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The alarm over food allergies has changed day care and schools
enormously. "No peanut zones" are commonplace in the lunchroom,
while snack ingredient lists are subject to scrutiny by wary
parents and teachers.
Yet the number of children with food allergies may not be as
large as we think.
According to a federally commissioned study published in the May
10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the
true incidence of food allergies is only about 8 percent in
children. It's even less in adults-less than 5 percent. Yet about
30 percent of people believe they have food allergies.
Researchers from VA Palo Alto Healthcare System and Stanford
University pored over more than 12,000 allergy research studies,
published between January 1988 and September 2009. Surprisingly,
they concluded that only 72 studies were properly conducted to
yield accurate conclusions.
Other findings in the study:
Why is there so much confusion?
Food allergy and food intolerance often get mixed up. Only
allergies involve the immune system. Food intolerance is more
common than food allergy and occurs when the digestive tract cannot
properly break down food. For example, the inability to digest the
milk sugar, lactose, is an intolerance.
In a November 2009 study by the journal, Pediatrics, potential
ethnic differences were found. For example, black children were
nearly twice as likely as white children to have IgE antibodies to
peanuts, twice as likely to have antibodies to milk and four times
as likely to have antibodies to shellfish. Latino children had the
greatest increase in food allergies, but this may be due to greater
The most common food allergies are to proteins in cow's milk,
eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts. Peanuts
and tree nuts are the leading cause of severe food allergic
reactions. Luckily, many children outgrow allergies to milk and
eggs. But severe allergies to foods like peanuts, some fish and
shrimp can last all their lives.
Raising a child with food allergies adds even more expense and
effort to your role as parents. Later this year, an expert panel of
the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will
provide guidelines defining food allergies and giving criteria for
diagnosis and management.
Hopefully, this will make your life just a little easier.
The information provided in this article is not intended to
substitute for the advice of a medical doctor.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Puree watermelon, lime juice and sugar in a food processor or
blender until smooth.
Divide blueberries among small paper cups or freezer-pop molds.
Top with the watermelon mixture. Insert sticks and freeze
until completely firm, about six hours.
Dip the molds briefly in hot water before unmolding.
Makes about 10 3-oz. pops.
Recipe courtesy of eatingwell.com.
Nutrition facts: 30 calories, 0 grams fat and
cholesterol, 8 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 1
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, is a nutritionist living in Naperville.
See more of Christine's stories here.
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