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May 30, 2006

Airline peanut allergy risk studied

Excerpts from The Oregonian

What is the real risk of flying for peanut allergic children and adults?

To help clear the air, we turned to Hugh A. Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and medical director of the nonprofit Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network's Medical Advisory Board in northern Virginia.

One percent: That's the number of Americans -- about 3 million people -- who are allergic to either peanuts (technically a legume, not a nut), tree nuts (such as almonds or walnuts) or both. Nut allergies account for the majority of the 30,000 severe food-allergy reactions that occur annually, including 2,000 hospitalizations and about 200 deaths each year. For 99 percent of the population, however, nuts are a good source of healthy fat that helps protect the heart.

It's not your imagination: If it seems like more attention is being paid to peanut and nut allergies, it's because the incidence is rising in the United States and other Western countries for reasons that are not understood. Consumption alone doesn't explain it. In the United States and China, per-capita consumption of peanuts is the same, but China has virtually no peanut allergies. One difference: We eat mostly dry-roasted peanuts even in peanut butter; the Chinese eat peanuts either boiled or fried. The higher temperatures from dry roasting appear to release more allergens in the peanuts, Sampson says.

Fear of flying: In 1999, Sampson and his colleagues investigated 62 suspected allergic reactions to nuts among airline passengers. They verified 42 cases. Half occurred in children 2 or younger who either ate airline food containing nuts or found stray nuts on the plane. There were no deaths, although 19 people required treatment in flight with epinephrine to cure breathing problems. Another 14 were treated after landing. Eating nuts caused the most severe reactions. Inhalation of nut dust and skin exposure were the second and third causes of the reactions.

Best time to fly if you have nut allergies: Early morning when planes are cleanest. Bring your own food and, if you're really worried, "wear a surgical mask," Sampson says, although he notes that many people with nut allergies fly and never have a problem.

Hand washing: Aside from avoiding food with nuts, washing your hands with soap is one of the best protections against any accidental allergic exposure, Sampson says. That's because many people, especially children, put their hands in their mouths frequently. No soap and water available? Carry pre-moistened towels to wipe hands and commonly touched surfaces. The good news: Skin exposure alone rarely produces more than annoying rashes or hives.

Age advantage: About 20 percent of children who are allergic to peanuts outgrow their allergy -- a far better outlook than researchers believed just a decade ago. But that's still small compared with the estimated 80 percent of kids who outgrow allergies to other foods including wheat and soy.

Posted by David at 12:05 PM

May 27, 2006

Take me out to the ballgame - peanut free

The old, familiar song about baseball goes "... buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks...," but on Wednesday, June 1st, you won't be able to find either of those food items at Fifth Third Ballpark. That day, the Whitecaps will be hosting their fourth annual Peanut Free Baseball Game to give peanut allergic children the opportunity to experience the great American pastime.

"We held our first peanut free baseball game in 2003 after a local mother inquired about the possibility of us not selling peanuts for one day so her son could come to the game," said Whitecaps director of food and beverage Matt Timon. "We received so much positive feedback that first year that we decided to make it an annual event. We won't sell peanuts or nuts of any kind anywhere in the ballpark. We'll also be giving the whole ballpark a thorough cleaning the night before to try to take care of any peanut residue. While we won't sell or cook peanuts that day, the Whitecaps can't guarantee that there won't be peanut residue in the park or that other fans won't sneak peanuts into the ballpark."

While one child was the initial impetus for the peanut free game in 2003, the Whitecaps found that dozens of peanut allergic children took advantage of the opportunity. According to a recent study by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, more than three million Americans suffer from a peanut allergy. For those people, being around a peanut or even a peanut shell can be life threatening.

"This is an important day for us," said Timon. "Our vendors who sell peanuts and other peanut products have been incredibly supportive and they're just as excited as we are to be able to offer this opportunity to people who would not normally be able to come to the ballpark."

During the Thursday, June 1st School Day Game, peanuts will not be available at any concession area, including the suite level. Timon and his staff will also pull roasted almonds, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat Bars, nutty cones, sunflower seeds and nut topping for the soft serve ice cream from the menu.

source: oursportscentral.com

Posted by David at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)

May 20, 2006

Section 504 Primer and Child Food Allergies

NOTE: This entry is for your information only. ChildFoodAllergy.com recommends seeking the advice of a competent legal professional with regard to ADA and Section 504 matters.

Our friends at foodallergyadvocate.com published this primer on Section 504 that dives into the details of the law and its protections.


"What are Section 504 and IDEA exactly and how might they pertain to my child with food allergy and asthma"? These are the questions I asked myself two years ago. These are my personal thoughts on the issue, and this article is not advice. This article is my understanding of how the law works based on my research, telephone conversations with my State Department of Education in Connecticut, and my many telephone conversations and e-mails with agents at the U.S. Office for Civil Rights in Boston, Massachusetts. I am not a doctor or a lawyer; I am a certified public school teacher and the parent of a child with severe peanut allergy. Please note that no 504 Plan can ensure the safety of your child, and only you, your physician and your school district can work together to create a 504 Plan that is appropriate for your child. This information is not intended to replace the medical advice, prescriptions or treatments prescribed by your doctor.

Note: This analysis pertains to schools that receive federal financial assistance (FFA) from the federal government.


Section 504 is the abbreviation for Title 34 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It applies to all institutions, including public schools, which receive financial assistance from the federal government. In the public school context, children with disabilities may be protected under Section 504, IDEA or both. Parents and educators may view the full original text of Section 504, Subpart D – Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Education, Regulations 104.31-104.39 at the U.S. Office for Civil Rights web site.

(Office for Civil Right Home Page, “Title 34—Education, Subtitle B – Regulations of the Offices of the Department of Education, Chapter 1, Office for Civil Rights, Part 104, Non Discrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs or Activities Receive Federal Financial Assistance.” < http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCR/regs/34cfr104.html>.)


“The ED [U.S. Department of Education] Section 504 regulation defines an ‘individual with handicaps’ as any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of such an impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment.

The regulation further defines a physical or mental impairment as

(A) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or

(B) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

The definition does not set forth a list of specific diseases and conditions that constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of any such list…”

(“The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.” January 1, 1995. < http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCR >. Keywords: hidden disabilities.)


“The key factor in determining whether a person is considered an ‘individual with handicaps’ covered by Section 504 is whether the physical or mental impairment results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities. Major life activities, as defined in the regulation, include functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working."

(“The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.”)


Children protected under Section 504 are commonly those with ADD, ADHD, OCD, Diabetes, AIDS, Asthma (that does not affect educational performance) and allergy just name a few. The criteria by which a child with severe food allergy is eligible for protection under Section 504 is that the physiological condition / disorder of food allergy affects the respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular and skin body systems. The physical impairment of food allergy could substantially limit breathing during an anaphylactic reaction. In addition, the U.S. Office for Civil Rights U.S., Department of Education formally recognizes “allergy” as a “hidden disability.”

(“The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.”)


“Hidden disabilities are physical or mental impairments that are not readily apparent to others. They include such conditions and diseases as specific learning disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy, and allergy. A disability such as a limp, paralysis, total blindness or deafness is usually obvious to others. But hidden disabilities such as low vision, poor hearing, heart disease, or chronic illness may not be obvious. A chronic illness involves a recurring and long-term disability such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney and liver disease, high blood pressure, or ulcers."

(“The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 19743.”)


The legislators who wrote Section 504 purposely used broad and relatively non- prescriptive language so that the law would encompass a wide range of disabilities. Schools must give children protected under Section 504 an “individualized educational program” with “accommodations.” This program usually takes the form of a 504 Plan. The 504 Plan lists and explains the formal accommodations and modifications that will be made to the public school environment to ensure the least restrictive learning environment (LRE). The LRE must provide equal opportunities for children protected under Section 504 to the maximum extent possible as their non-disabled peers. A 504 Plan for a children with food allergy should have many components to address important food allergy issues so affected children have the best possible chance of staying safe.

(e.g., Amy is contact allergic to peanuts, one accommodation to the learning environment might be: All children in Amy’s class will wipe their hands with wipes upon entering the classroom.)


“The clear and unequivocal answer to that is no.” (OCR Policy Letter to Zirkel, 20 IDELR 134, 8/23/93.)

Dr. Perry A. Zirkel is a professor of education and law at Lehigh University. Dr. Zirkel is a “nationally recognized authority on special education law in general, and Section 504 in particular. [He] wrote the federal Office for Civil Rights for an interpretation” (Reed Martin) of whether or not the “reasonable” limitation applies to elementary and secondary students the same way it applies to employees or postsecondary/vocational students. The U.S. Office for Civil Rights responded to Zirkel’s letter, and it was signed by the chief officer for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education.


Posted by David at 5:12 PM

May 19, 2006

Is A Peanut Allergy A Disability?

We've received a couple of pings regarding the protection of a child peanut allergy under the ADA, so we did some combing on-line to find out more. Please note: this is not legal advice. If you find yourself in a legal situation, ChildFoodAllergy.com recommends seeking the advice of a competent legal professional.

According to LaborLawyers.com There has been differing opinions with regard to a child food allergy qualifying as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a case with a pre-school vs. a child with a peanut allergy (Land v. Baptist Medical Center) the court ruled that the child did not qualify for protection under the ADA.

Under the ADA, a disability is 1) a physical or mental impairment that 2) substantially limits 3) one or more of the major life activities of such individual.

The court found that the child did have a physical impairment and that a major life activity was limited. However, her breathing was only restricted if exposed to peanut products, so she was not entitled to protection under ADA.

In similar situations, courts have ruled the other way, so there is still room for interpretation in the law and courts will take it case by case.

Posted by David at 6:56 AM

May 18, 2006

Skip the Eggs - use a substitute

Here are some egg substitutes from about.com

Often times, you can skip the eggs in a recipe if it only calls for one or two. All you need to do is add a couple extra tablespoons of liquid to balance the moisture content of the product.

There are several ways in which to substitute eggs in a recipe. For each egg, substitute one of the following:

As Binders

1/2 large mashed banana

1/4 cup apple sauce or pureed prunes

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons water, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon baking powder

Combine one packet of unflavored gelatin with one cup boiling water - 3 tablespoons of this mixture equal one egg

1 tablespoon apricot puree

1/4 cup of soft tofu

1/4 cup soy milk

As Leavening

2 tablespoons carbonated water and 2 teaspoons baking flour

1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon water, and 1 tablespoon vinegar (add vinegar separately at the end for rising)

Dissolve 1 teaspoon yeast in 1/4 cup warm water

1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour and one tablespoon water

1 tablespoon bean flour and 1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons gluten flour or unbleached white flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons corn oil, 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 tablespoons water

For Whipping

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum with about 1/4 cup of water. Let stand. It thickens, and can be whipped like an egg white.

Posted by David at 8:24 PM

May 17, 2006

Children who attend day care have a heightened risk of developing respiratory and allergy symptoms

Preschool age children who attend day care have a heightened risk of developing respiratory and allergy symptoms, according to results of a study conducted by Swedish researchers.

Dr. Linda Hagerhed-Engman, of SP Swedish National Testing and Research Institute, Boras and colleagues examined the effect of day care attendance and age on respiratory and allergic diseases in children between the ages of 1 and 6 years.

The parents of more than 10,800 children completed a cross-sectional survey. Along with respiratory and allergy symptoms, questions focused on the home environment and information about day care.

In the last 12 months, compared with children in home care, children in day care had more symptoms, including an increased risk of:

> 33 percent for wheeze;
> 56 percent for cough at night;
> 23 percent for doctor diagnosed asthma;
> 15 percent for rhinitis;
> 75 percent for doctor diagnosed hay fever;
> 49 percent for eczema; and
> 27 percent for food allergy.

In addition, the odds of having more than six colds in the last 12 months was increased by more than 2.5-fold, and for ever having an ear infection by more than 2.0-fold, among children attending day care.

The increased risks were most pronounced for the youngest group of children, those between the ages of 1 and 4 years.

In light of the significant increases in allergic diseases in Sweden over the last decades, the researchers conclude that the "findings justify a significant public health concern."

Source: reuters.com

Posted by David at 8:08 PM

May 16, 2006

A Word of Caution About the New Food Labeling Law

The new allergen food labeling law has only been in effect since the beginning of the year. It has raised plenty of issues with an overall positive influence for parents of children with food allergies.

A word of caution... there will still be many foods still packaged with labels printed before the law. Parents of children with food allergies should be just as vigilant as before when screening for foods with potentially dangerous ingredients. Read the labels carefully and, when in doubt, call the manufacturer. Most manufacturers who are in tune with food allergies are glad to give straight answers over the phone.

Posted by David at 7:27 PM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2006

New at home Food Allergy Test Kit Available

The latest advancement in the screening for food allergy, food intolerance and Celiac Disease is available through US-based Optimum Health Resource Laboratories. With an estimated 70-80% of the world's chronically ill population suffering from medical conditions either caused and/or aggravated by immune responses to foods, it is anticipated that for many these laboratory innovations will be the key to gaining optimal health.

"Our collection kits are a convenient, reliable and cost-effective method for an individual or medical professional to identify the hidden culprits behind many chronic ill-health conditions of unknown origin. Additionally, our collection kits can be administered in the comfort of one's home or at a doctor's office," says John Kernohan, Director of Optimum Health Resource Laboratories.

For food allergy and food intolerance, a unique collection kit is used by simply pricking the end of the finger to collect the tiny sample of blood required for testing. According to Charlotte Newbury, Optimum Health Resource Laboratories' Operations Manager, "The absorbent pad safely preserves the specimen until it reaches the laboratory, which is then tested against 96 foods. In addition to the results and a 48-page support program we produce for the patient, we also include 12 months of telephone and Internet support at no additional cost!"

"For Celiac Disease, our kit detects the antibodies associated with CD and gluten intolerance by displaying results within 10 minutes of collecting the blood - there is no need to send the specimen to the laboratory for analysis," states Kernohan.

For further information about Optimum Health Resource Laboratories and its kits for food allergy, food intolerance and Celiac Disease, visit http://www.optimumhealthresource.com or contact John Kernohan at (888) 751-3388 or info@optimumhealthresource.com.

source: GenEngNews.com

Posted by David at 2:04 AM

May 10, 2006

Source of Allergies - still a huge unknown

Allergies, it seems, make for an all-purpose marker for societal ills. Even our growing girths have been implicated. The exact nature of the connection is up for debate, but, according to Javed Sheikh, the clinical director of allergy at Beth Israel Hospital, "obesity and asthma clearly seem to be linked."

Still, while the rise of allergies may indeed be the product of pollution, poverty, and sloth, it might also have very little to do with any of these. Slimmer Americans breathing cleaner air might still have reason to dread the spring.

One of the more widely accepted explanations for the rise in allergies is something called the "hygiene hypothesis." By killing off so many of the microbes and parasites that used to prey on us, the hypothesis suggests, we've thrown our immune system off balance. "We've more or less taken away an important function of the immune system," says Hamilos. "It tends to look for other things to do, and it looks to things that aren't very productive, namely attacking allergens."

Instead of focusing the blame on damage we've done to the environment, the hygiene hypothesis sees allergies more as an unintended consequence of our fight against more debilitating diseases. "We want to live longer and better," says Andrew Saxon, a leading allergy researcher at UCLA Medical School, "and the price is allergy."

As proof, researchers point out that allergy rates in poor countries--where diseases long since eradicated in the developed world still run rampant--are correspondingly lower, even in polluted urban centers. Some, like Sheikh, emphasize the role of a compound called endotoxin, produced by E. coli and other bacteria common in animal feces. Studies have found that children who grow up on farms (around microbial havens like untreated ground water, dirt, and manure) are less likely than their urban counterparts to develop allergies. Others look to intestinal worms, citing studies that show an increase in allergy rates among children given deworming medication.

In a related vein, some research has suggested that early exposure to an allergenic substance may actually protect one from developing allergies. As-yet-unpublished results from a study led by Gideon Lack, an allergist at London's St. Thomas' Hospital, suggest that, in countries where babies have a peanut-heavy diet, peanut allergy rates are a fraction of those in countries like England and the US where babies are not fed peanuts--out of a fear they'll prove fatally allergic. To see whether peanut exposure is actually decisive, in July Lack will begin a seven-year study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, in which hundreds of English infants will (under medical supervision) be fed peanuts on a regular basis, tracked to see what sort of allergies they develop, and compared with a peanut-free control group.

Similarly, work by Dennis Ownby, head of Allergy and Immunology at the Medical College of Georgia, has shown that being born into a home with multiple pets decreases dramatically one's odds of developing allergies of any sort.

As of yet, no doctor is suggesting that parents put their babies on a peanut diet or have them play in manure. But there have been attempts to figure out how to recreate certain antiallergenic aspects of the pre-modern lifestyle, what Sheikh calls "the particular dirty profile that leads to protection against allergy." Joel Weinstock, for example, head of Tufts New England Medical Center's gastroenterology division, has speculated that one possible cure for allergies might be a dose of a relatively benign parasite called the pig whipworm.

In the meantime, allergies will remain, as George Beard believed more than a hundred years ago, a disease of modern living--a disease of poverty, pollution, development, and cleanliness. In other words, an epidemiological Rorschach.

source: Boston Globe Online

Posted by David at 8:02 PM

May 8, 2006

Does my child really have a food allergy?

According to the American Dietetic Association, only about 2 percent of Americans have a real food allergy. Yet, so many more think the have a food allergy.

Many symptoms of food allergy can be uncomfortable. But sometimes they can be severe, or life-threatening. Depending on the culprit, a true food allergy, requires you to do a little investigating.

If you think your child may have a food allergy, see your pediatrician first. Make sure you are prepared for the visit. Here are some things you will want to bring to your visit:

1) Keep track of events. Record your child's symptoms and what he/she ate or drank before they occurred. Also, note times and settings.

2) Write down your family history. Does anyone else have food allergies? Often there are family connections. Even though neither of us has food allergies, we definitely have connections in our families... both from Mom and Dad's side.

3) Record the bigger picture. Does anything else bring the symptoms out? Be very specific. Going outside in the spring? Traveling to the mountains or desert? Hard physical activity?

Now, a final word about those early days of diagnosis. Many pediatricians are not fully up to speed on diagnosing food allergies. You will want to see an allergist to fully understand the situation. Our experience is that there is still a fair amount of art to this science of child food allergies. Be prepared for a lot of learning about allergies, your child and your doctors.

Posted by David at 8:14 AM

May 1, 2006

Positive media on new labeling law

Here's yet another high level story about the new labeling law. It misses the discussion about manufactures that already catered to the food allergy community are now forced into confusing labeling by the law. This time from a Seattle news station...

Food labeling helps fight food allergies

If you have a food allergy, you know grocery shopping can be exhausting. You never know if what makes you sick will pop up in a product you wouldn't expect. Now, a new change in food labeling takes out the guesswork.

Most of us take eating for granted. Not Jeanne McGrady. Every day she's challenged to find foods that won't make her sick. "It's like a diet if you're trying to lose weight; you have to retrain the way you're thinking about food," she says.

McGrady's allergy to wheat is so severe, just a small amount wipes her out. "I get very nauseous, and I'm extremely tired, but the worst thing that happens to me is I feel like my bones are rotting."

Thirty-thousand people end up in emergency rooms each year because of food allergy reactions. About 150 die. Part of the problem is allergens buried in the ingredient list in scientific jargon make labels unclear ... But not anymore.

"They don't have to look at a food label and be confused," says Alana Booth, R.D., of Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

A new law requires food manufacturers to clearly list any amount, even a trace, of eight common foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. They make up 90 percent of all food allergens.

McGrady says, "I can go right down to the bottom where it says allergy information and find out if I can eat it or not."

Food manufacturers must now use wording that's easy to understand. That's especially helpful for spotting allergens in foods you wouldn't expect, like wheat in licorice, soy in hot dogs, and nuts in mint chocolate cookies.

"I read every single label because you just never know," McGrady says, because now it's easier for her to be sure.

Products that were already out before the law went into effect did not have to change their labels, so there are still some old labels on store shelves. The transitional period may last up to 18 months. The new labels have the allergen list at the bottom of the ingredient list in bold.

Posted by David at 8:09 AM