March 24, 2008

Hugh Sampson - a trusted name in food allergies

For many years now, I've been receiving newsletters from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and browsing the internet and medical journals regarding food allergy research. Dr. Hugh Sampson's name appears on many of the articles and studies in the food allergy field. According to the Hamilton College newsletter, Dr. Hugh A. Sampson was elected president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) during its 2008 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. He will serve as president through March 2009.

I totally respect any article this man writes. I know the information will be accurate and up-to-date and he offers great, real-life examples of living with food allergies. I've come across some whack-job recommendations and opinions that are written well enough to fool someone new to the whole food allergy topic. I recommend that we all add Dr. Sampson to our Rolodex of respected allergy experts. And any time we read something authored by him, we should really stop and listen to what he is saying.

According to the Hamiliton College newsletter, Dr. Sampson's "current NIH-funded research projects include studies of the Immunologic Basis of Cow Milk-Induced Hypersensitivities, the Immunobiology of Peanut Allergy and its Treatment, Immunoprophylaxis in the Primary Prevention of Allergic Disease, Therapeutic Effect of Chinese Herbal Medicine on Food Allergy, and Immunologic Approaches to Reduce Asthma.

"He is also the principal investigator in the Food Allergy Resource Initiative, in which a serum bank and registry of patients with well-characterized IgE-mediated reactions to a wide variety of foods is being established, along with a repository of cDNA expression vectors for all major food allergens."

Posted by Ann Marie at 1:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2008

Frustration with Food Labels

Grocery shopping for children with food allergies can at times be quite taxing. Remember a couple of years ago when the law changed and companies had to list the top 8 allergens on their packages? And remember how it seemed that “may contain traces of …” labels were popping up everywhere you looked? It added a huge stress to an already dreaded chore.

According to FAAN, the food labeling law effective January 2006 mandates that foods containing the top eight allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy) must declare the food in plain language on the package. This was put into place to help food allergic consumers. Besides listing the top allergens, some companies also voluntarily include allergy advisory labeling, such as the statements “may contain traces of…” or “processed in the same plant as…”.

“Since these statements are voluntary, every company has its own guidelines for when to use them and what words to use. As a result, consumers do not know which statements are accurate or how to interpret their meaning.”

To me, it seemed that companies were just covering themselves to avoid potential law suits. I started wondering if I should believe that this product I’ve used for years was really off limits. Or was it only the label that changed and not really the food itself? I wanted to just ignore those labels, but the neurotic side of me asked how could I take a chance with my child’s life?

FAAN recently published an article in their newsletter (Food Allergy News, Vol. 16, No 6) that made me rethink how I looked at those labels:

To see whether or not consumers paid attention to the advisory statements, FAAN developed a structured questionnaire and gave them to persons attending the 2003 and 2006 FAAN Food Allergy Conferences. The majority of the respondents were parents of a child with food allergy. The findings were concerning. In 2003, 85 percent responded that they would “never” purchase a product with an advisory label. This decreased to 75 percent in 2006.

“To determine the risk of eating foods with advisory labeling, scientists at the University of Nebraska analyzed 200 types of packaged foods for the presence of peanut. Samples included 179 products with advisory statements for peanuts and 21 products with peanuts listed as the last ingredient or near the end of the ingredient statement. The analysis showed that, of the products that included peanut as the last or close-to-last ingredient, only one-third contained detectable levels of peanut. Some food categories (bakery products/mixes, snack foods, frozen desserts, instant/quick meals) did not have detectable levels of peanut.”

The results of this study show that an increasing number of people are ignoring allergy advisory statements. According again to the FAAN article, “This may be due to a number of reasons, including the increased number of products bearing allergen statements that had safely been eaten before a new warning was added, or the belief that advisory labels are for a company’s legal protection rather than because of a real risk that allergens are present. Since there is no way for individuals to know if a product with advisory labeling does or doesn’t contain the allergen, the authors recommended that products with these labeling messages, and those that list peanuts at the end of the ingredient statement, should be avoided.”

Now even though my child’s food selection is still limited, I don’t feel as frustrated knowing that these statements might really mean what they say!!

Posted by Ann Marie at 1:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 8, 2008

New Policy Statement for Infants and Children at Risk for Food Allergies

“A new report by a leading group of US pediatricians suggests that food allergies, asthma, eczema, and other atopic diseases may be delayed or prevented in high risk babies if they are breastfed for at least four months…The report comprises a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and is published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Pediatrics.”

One of the authors is Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York. He is also on the board of FAAN and highly respected in the allergy community.

“The report suggests…there is insufficient evidence to support delaying the introduction of allergy related foods from the diets of high risk children. And there is insufficient evidence to support pregnant or nursing mothers restricting their diets in order to prevent their high risk child from getting an atopic disease. Both of these practices were recommended in the old policy statement of the AAP.”

When my third child was born, we had already lived the allergy life for a couple of years with my first born. Heck, I even had a second child that didn't have a single food allergy! I thought we were so on top of things and somehow in control of our child's destiny! I was determined to do everything in my power to make sure this new baby didn’t develop food allergies either. I exclusively breastfed her for 14 months and delayed the introduction of the typical allergens (cow’s milk, eggs, soy, NO nuts ever!) even longer than the allergist suggested. Since I was nursing, I personally avoided all dairy, nuts, eggs, etc. I was such a good mom!! Yeah, right. I'm sure you can guess the outcome. She has more allergies and worse eczema than any of my other children!! I took the same precautions with my fourth child, and she has NO food allergies.

Interestingly, the report also suggests that “after the first 4 to 6 months, if the high risk child was going to be allergic, it didn't seem to matter when he or she was first introduced to the peanuts or the eggs.” Many years ago, a wise pediatrician told me that if my little girl was genetically atopic, then she would develop allergies regardless of what I did or didn’t do. Yes, he suggested that we still hold off on the introduction to allergy-prone foods, which we did.

I strongly believe that my third child was destined to be atopic and have allergies. I’m glad I took precautions and delayed foods, which helps relieve the guilt factor for me. Although some people still occasionally allude to the fact that their child doesn’t have allergies because they avoided peanut butter until their child was 3. Ugh!! Does this somehow make them feel better? Like they had any control over the matter to begin with!! For all of us parents of children with food allergies out there, we DID NOT CAUSE our child’s allergies! (aside from giving them their genetic make up, of course).

I’ll end with one more thought from the article, “Parents who feel guilty that they caused their children's eczema or food allergy because they fed them milk or eggs too soon can relax. There is no evidence to support this, said Scott H. Sicherer, M.D.”


To reference the article, please click

Posted by Ann Marie at 1:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2007

One in Five Households Now Has a Food Allergic Family Member

The Wall Street Journal completed a food allergy poll with Harris Interactive. The survey of over 2,800 adults indicates about one in five American households includes at least one person who suffers from food allergies.

32% described their food allergy was very serious or life threatening, however, only two-thirds of these serious allergy sufferers say they inquire about how foods are prepared and informing managers about their allergy when dining out. I'm not sure what the other third is thinking - maybe they just enjoy rolling the dice or frequent trips to the ER?

Get this... 44% of the severely allergic respondents said that they suffered an allergic reaction to food while dining out because they were not informed or misinformed about the ingredients in a meal at a restaurant. Wouldn't you think that would be a high enough number to drive everyone to inform restaurant staff about his/her food allergy?

Part of me thinks polls like this have limited value - how many of those folks really have a food allergy? For those of us managing a clinically diagnosed severe food allergy, we just cannot imagine going out to eat and simply hoping that what we read on the menu is enough to go by when ordering a food allergen safe meal.

Posted by David at 3:42 PM

May 31, 2007

New Theory as to Why Peanut Allergy Continues to Grow in USA

According to a recent article at, "researchers theorized that peanut allergies are more prevalent in the United States because dry-roasting, the high-temperature method used to process nuts here, including for peanut butter, makes the peanuts more allergenic than using them in other ways. According to the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai, though per capita consumption of peanuts in China is about the same as in the United States, there are virtually no peanut allergies."

The Jaffe Food Allergy Institute was established in 1997 and is directed by Hugh A. Sampson, M.D., well-known and respected allergist and food allergy researcher. You can learn more about the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute by visiting their website.

Posted by David at 5:12 PM | Comments (1)

May 29, 2007

University of Michigan Opens Specialty Food Allergy Clinic

University of Michigan opened a new food allergy clinic in early May to help serve growing numbers of children and adults with food allergies. The new clinic includes an educational room and even a kitchen.

For more information about the University of Michigan's new food allergy clinic, visit their website or call 734-647-5940 or 888-229-2409.

You can read more about the new food allergy clinic at

Posted by David at 7:45 AM

April 16, 2007

Prolonged Bi-Phasic Reactions

As you know, I recently participated in a call with group of food allergy bloggers and Doctor Clifford Bassett, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Otolaryngology at the State University of New York’s Health Sciences Center in Brooklyn.

During that call, Doctor Basset mentioned a situation that one of his colleagues ran across recently. A peanut allergic child was exposed to peanuts and admitted to the hospital for the reaction. He experience what is described as a prolonged, bi-phasic reaction.

Now, we all know about the risk of bi-phasic reactions. That is, a reaction that comes in multiple waves or phases. What was interesting about this example was that the food allergic reaction happened over 3 DAYS!

The patient was kept in the hospital as the doctors watched repeated phases of reaction over that time. I've not heard of a situation like this before and it really hits home the need to: 1) carry multiple Epi-Pens and 2) ALWAYS go to the ER after a reaction, even if the Epi and the Benadryl seem to be working fine.

Here's to being prepared.

Posted by David at 8:26 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2007

The Link to the Audio Recording of the Food Allergy Call

For those interested in listening to the call with the food allergy bloggers and Dr. Bassett can listen to it here...

This was a great opportunity for members of the food allergy community to get their questions answered by an allergy expert. Take a listen to the call and let us know your reactions.

Thanks again to Revolution Health for sponsoring the call. RevolutionHealth is aiming to be the world’s leading health site by focusing on an engaging design, high levels of personalization, and an unparalleled sense of community. They are a company that’s trying to fundamentally change the health care system and their beta site is worth a visit.

Posted by David at 8:20 AM | Comments (1)

April 12, 2007

Revolution Health Call with Food Allergy Bloggers

Yesterday I participated in a call with group of food allergy bloggers who interviewed a leading expert in the fields of allergies and asthma, Researcher and Clinician Clifford W. Bassett MD. Doctor Bassett serves as the Medical Director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, is an attending physician in the Allergy and Immunology Department at the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, and is also on the faculty of the New York University School of Medicine, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Otolaryngology at the State University of New York’s Health Sciences Center in Brooklyn.

The food allergy blogsphere was represented by myself, Allergic Girl, Gluten Free Girl, Allergy Moms, Kids with Food Allergies, Allergizer and the Zum Family.

Doctor Bassett provided answers to the food allergy blogging communities questions, including:

Q: What is the technical definition of anaphylaxis?

Q: The affects of the psychology of allergies?

Q: Food allergy testing resulting in a false negative. Why does that happen?

Q: The future of treatments?

Q: What is a biphasic reaction?

Q: Is there a relationship between genetically modified foods and food allergies?

These questions along with many more will be posted on RevolutionHealth in the coming days. I will post the link here as soon as I get it.

Posted by David at 8:52 AM

March 6, 2007

Can We Really Prevent Child Food Allergies? published an article regarding the prevention of food allergies in children this week. My question is, can we really do anything to prevent food allergies?

Over the past 10 years, we've learned a lot about food allergies. We've seen studies that show a doubling in the in number of peanut allergies. We've seen research stopped because of people dying in the process. We've seen articles on how to avoid food allergies. Seems to me, we still don't know why food allergies happen or how to keep them from happening.

Still, there may be an advantage to following the advice given by MayoClinic...

Avoid peanuts during pregnancy and while nursing.

Give your child only breast milk for the first 6 months.

Wait until your child is 6 months old to introduce solid foods.

Introduce cow's milk after one year.

Wait to introduce eggs until age 2.

Introduce nuts and seafood at age 3.

Introduce all new foods gradually and one at a time.

Give your child cooked or homogenized foods.

We look at this list and say, "Yep, did that and did that one, too." Still, 2 out of our 4 children have severe food allergies. Hmmm. Same parents, same environment, avoided same foods, yet 2 have the allergies and 2 don't.

Until we get it all figured out, I think the best food allergy avoidance advice is this, "...each child is different — so the best approach is work with your doctor or a pediatric dietician to come up with the best dietary plan for your child."

Posted by David at 9:20 PM | Comments (3)

January 3, 2007

Treatment just a few bites away?

Food allergy treatment may be a few bites away
source: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON— Elizabeth White’s first encounter with peanuts — a nibble of a peanut butter cracker at age 14 months — left the toddler gasping for breath. Within minutes, her airways were swelling shut.

A mere fifth of a peanut was enough to trigger an allergic reaction.

So it was with trepidation that her parents enrolled Elizabeth, at 4 1/2 , in a groundbreaking experiment: Could eating tiny amounts of the very foods that endanger them eventually train children’s bodies to overcome severe food allergies?

It just may work, suggest preliminary results from a handful of youngsters allergic to peanuts or eggs — and who, after two years of treatment, seem protected enough that an accidental bite of the forbidden foods is no longer a huge threat.

Now 7, Elizabeth can safely tolerate the equivalent of seven peanuts. For the first time, the Raleigh, N.C., girl is allowed to go on play dates and to birthday parties without her parents first teaching the chaperones to use an EpiPen, a shot of epinephrine that can reverse a life-threatening reaction.

“Our whole worry level is really gone.”

Don’t try this experiment on your own, warns lead researcher Dr. A. Wesley Burks of Duke University Medical Center. Children in the study are closely monitored for the real risk of life-threatening reactions.

But if the work pans out — and larger studies are beginning — it would be a major advance in the quest to at least reduce severe food allergies that trigger 30,000 emergency-room visits and kill 150 people a year.

“I really think in five years there’s going to be a treatment available for kids with food allergy,” says Burks.

Millions of Americans suffer some degree of food allergy, including 1.5 million with peanut allergy, considered the most dangerous type. Even a whiff of the legume is enough to trigger a reaction in some patients.

Moreover, food allergies appear to be on the rise. Peanut allergy in particular is thought to have doubled among young children over the past decade, prompting schools to set up peanut-free cafeteria zones or ban peanut-containing products.

There’s no way to avoid a reaction other than avoiding the food, something the new research aims to change.

Allergies to pollen and other environmental triggers often are treated with shots called immunotherapy. A series of injections containing small amounts of the allergen builds up patients’ tolerance, reducing or even eliminating symptoms in many people.

Shots proved too dangerous for food allergy. So Burks and colleagues at Duke and the University of Arkansas developed an oral immunotherapy.

Here’s how it worked: First, youngsters spent a day at the Duke hospital swallowing minuscule but increasing doses of either an egg powder egg or a defatted peanut flour, depending on their allergy. They started at 1/3,000th of a peanut or about 1/1,000th of an egg, increasing the amount until the child broke out in hives or had some other reaction.

Then the children were sent home with a daily dose just under that reactive amount. Every two weeks, the kids returned for a small dose increase until they reached the equivalent of a tenth of an egg or one peanut — a maintenance dose that they swallowed daily.

After two years, four of the seven youngsters in the egg pilot study could eat two scrambled eggs with no problem, and two more ate about as much before symptoms began, researchers report in the January edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In the peanut pilot study, yet to be published, six of the children challenged so far could tolerate 15 peanuts, Burks says; Elizabeth’s limit was seven.

“We thought it would make some difference. We’re surprised about the amount of difference it made,” says Burks. “From one peanut to 15 peanuts is basically a huge difference.”

But will it last? more

Posted by David at 7:38 AM

November 30, 2006

Good News Regarding Peanut Allergy Research

This is good news. I recently read a WebMD article about a two-year pilot study conducted by researchers at Duke University and the University of Arkansas regarding gradually introducing food allergens into the diets of children who are highly allergic in an effort to desensitize them.

A study is under way involving children with peanut allergies, which more often trigger potentially life-threatening allergic reactions. I seem to recall similar studies about 5 years ago that were called off due to the death of a subject after being exposed to a miniscual amount of peanut protein. I pray that this research continues to make progress and that all the children are kept safe.

Early findings suggest that this gradual challenge approach increases tolerance to problem foods. At the begining of the peanut allergy study, kids children were given the equivalent of 1/3,000 of a peanut. Within six months, most of the subjects were eating a peanut a day with little reaction.

Researcher A. Wesley Burks, MD is quoted as saying, 'Some children who had allergic reactions to literally a thousandth of a peanut at the beginning of the study had no reaction later on when challenged with 15 peanuts.' Sound like they are making great progress on the food allergy research front and I look forward to further results.

Posted by David at 8:22 AM | Comments (2)

October 17, 2006

Peanut Extract for Use in Duke University Study

Greer Provides Extract for Duke University Study Evaluating Sublingual-Oral Immunotherapy for Peanut Allergies

LENOIR, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Greer, a leading developer and provider of allergy immunotherapy products and source materials, is providing peanut extract to Duke University Medical Center for their sublingual-oral immunotherapy study. The study is designed to evaluate whether sublingual-oral immunotherapy with an extract from raw peanut source materials is a safe and effective treatment for children and adults with peanut allergies. Wesley Burks (, M.D., chief of the division of pediatric allergy and immunology at Duke University Medical Center, is the principle investigator for the study which is being funded through a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

“Greer was able to provide the peanut extract we needed for the two-year duration of the Duke study,” says Dr. Burks. “I have worked with Greer in the past on research initiatives and once again the company was very helpful in supplying the materials we needed to launch the study.”

Nearly three million Americans are allergic to peanuts and brief or accidental contact with peanuts kills hundreds of people each year. The goal of the Duke study is to determine whether exposing participants to peanuts, by giving them small drops of peanut extract under the tongue, will make them less sensitive to the allergen.

“This is an exciting milestone and marks a major step in the study of peanut allergies,” says Dr. Robert Esch, Greer executive Vice President of Research & Development. “Dr. Burks’ research will address the need for well-controlled, long-term trials for specific oral tolerance induction in food allergy. His work represents a promising approach for treating food allergies and improving the quality of life of peanut-allergic patients.”


Posted by David at 11:54 AM

October 5, 2006

Wall Street Journal Article on Peanut Allergy Research

Taming peanut allergy takes researchers down uncertain road

The peanut industry is helping fund the quest for a "nut-free" peanut, in an effort to diminish the risks for people with peanut allergies.

In a world of wheat-free cookies and dairy-free ice cream, the peanut industry is helping fund the quest for a "nut-free" peanut.

Peanuts aren't nuts at all, of course, but legumes, or seeds, as are beans and lentils. An estimated 1.5 million Americans, including some 600,000 children, experience allergic reactions to peanuts, ranging from hives to nausea to sometimes-fatal anaphylactic shock. With most of the annual 150 food-allergy deaths blamed on peanuts, many schools have created peanut-free zones or gone totally "peanut free."

The number of children with peanut allergies has skyrocketed, doubling from 1997 to 2002, according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. And it's a mystery why peanut allergies are causing more problems. One explanation is that physicians are more adept at detecting them. Another is that the modern environment may be, in a sense, too clean: If the human immune system were exposed to more allergens, a peanut might not send it into overdrive.

An approved asthma drug, Xolair, may be useful in treating peanut and other food allergies; injected into patients, it would reduce certain antibodies that are thought to cause anaphylactic food allergy. Last year, though, clinical trials came to a halt after two children, who had been given peanut protein in a screening to gauge the severity of their allergy, experienced anaphylactic reactions. The drug's makers -- Genentech, Novartis and Tanox -- are working with the Food and Drug Administration to design a new trial, Genentech says.

Determined scientists, in some cases with peanut-industry funding, are trying to develop other therapies, or a vaccine, to prevent or reduce the severity of peanut reactions. A nut-free peanut would be genetically altered so that it is less likely to set off an immune response. Peanut farmers and food processors have given $5.6 million over the past decade to eight scientists, mainly for peanut-allergy work, says Howard Valentine, of the American Peanut Council.

Two researchers -- Wesley Burks, chief of pediatric allergy and immunology at Duke University Medical Center, and Hugh Sampson, his counterpart at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine -- are trying to create a vaccine. They have slightly modified the three peanut proteins responsible for most reactions so they don't trigger such strong reactions from human mast cells. By administering the modified proteins to subjects in slowly increasing doses, they hope to condition their immune systems to tolerate more. They have tested the therapy on mice and plan to start on humans in a year or so.

Another experimental therapy aims to reduce the severity of reactions. Dr. Burks's team administers powdered or liquid peanut proteins to patients in incrementally increasing doses, starting with 0.001 peanut the first day, to one whole peanut six months later. They hope one day to develop a drug or a physician-administered therapy. In a trial completed on eight patients, Dr. Burks says the subjects tolerated 13 peanuts before experiencing a reaction -- enough, in theory, to save an allergic child's life in case of accidental ingestion.

Peanut interests have helped to fund the work of Peggy Ozias-Akins, a horticulture professor at the University of Georgia, Tifton. She wants to develop a plant whose peanuts are free of the three major protein allergens.


Posted by David at 10:56 AM

September 28, 2006

Easy Screening Test for Food Allergies

ALCAT Worldwide Introduces Fingerstick Screen for Food Allergy Testing
Wednesday September 27, 8:05 am ET

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla., Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- ALCAT Laboratories, a division of Cell Science Systems, has launched the 20 Food Fingerstick Reflex Test to their product line. This reliable food intolerance test is now the most convenient and affordable way to check for food sensitivities. The test panel scans for apples, barley, beef, broccoli, cane sugar, carrot, corn, cow's milk, garlic, gluten, lemon, orange, peanut, pork, rice, soybean, sweet potato, tomato, tuna and turkey.

"Taking an active role in your own healthcare has never been easier," said Lee J. Rolnick, ALCAT's Director of Sales and Marketing. The kit includes everything needed for at-home testing including a pre-paid Federal Express Clinical Pack with easy to use instructions.

In addition to the 20 Food Fingerstick Screen, the laboratory also offers sensitivity testing for over 150 additional foods, environmental chemicals, molds, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications and even food additives and food colorings.

In the October 2006 issue of The Health Sciences Institute (HSI) newsletter "Members Alert," the ALCAT Test® was reviewed in depth by writer Alicia Potee. " ... we've given you several updates," wrote Potee, "explaining the science behind the test a little further and sharing the stellar results coming in from HSI members ... "

The 20 Food Fingerstick Reflex Test costs $99 plus shipping and handling and laboratory results are returned within 10 business days. All tests can be ordered over the phone or via the website and administered in the privacy of the home by contacting ALCAT at 800-872-5228 (US ALCAT) or

Posted by David at 2:03 PM

September 14, 2006

Study Finds Peanut Allergy Can Return

In an article on, we find a surprising study that found peanut allergy reactions can returns after a child is diagnosed as out growing a peanut allergy. I think this takes the relief of a clear diagnosis and tempers it with ongoing fear.

Here is what the article says...

Many children who develop an allergy to peanuts at a very young age can outgrow the allergy before school age, but a surprising study has found that peanut allergies can resurface at a later age.

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City have reported three children in whom peanut allergies disappeared and then returned later. All three were boys who first developed peanut allergies between a year and 18 months of age. Their peanut allergies disappeared, but then returned when the boys were between six and 10 years of age.

"No one had ever reported that anyone who outgrew an allergy grew back into it again," Dr. Scott Sicherer, a pediatrician at Mount Sinai's Jaffe Food Allergy Institute told reporters. "The remarkable thing was they not only had symptoms but they developed increased sensitization."

Sicherer said these findings, which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrate that allergists who find that peanut allergies have subsided in their patients should not necessarily recommend that they can resume normal consumption of foods containing peanuts.

The researchers did not determine whether or not this same "rebound" effect might be true of other foods which cause allergic reactions, which children also can outgrow.

"What it reminds us is that when we're talking about peanut allergy we have to start from scratch and assume nothing," Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and chief executive officer of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, told reporters. "We always have to be ready that it might come back."

In the United States, food allergies account for between 150 and 200 deaths a year and an estimated 30,000 emergency room visits. Approximately one in 150 Americans are allergic to peanuts. Allergic reactions to peanuts can range from mild to life-threatening.


Posted by David at 9:49 AM

September 11, 2006

Food Allergy Cures Around the Corner?

I saw this article by Anne Robertson online at and couldn't help but read about the potential of finding a "cure" for child food allergies. Predicting food allergy cures is a bit like predicting the weather. I'm always interested in progress on cures for food allergies. Even if not a complete "cure" anything that lessens the risk of death is a great advance in my opinion.

In the next few years, you might be able to wolf down a whole bag of peanuts and step out in any climate even if you suffer from allergies or asthma, experts have revealed at the British Association Festival of Science in Norwich.

A leading expert, Dr Ronald van Ree of Amsterdam University, said that a vaccine without side effects was being developed to help those who are unable to do a lot of things because they were allergic to substances or suffered from asthma. Asserting that the claim was not 'science fiction', but 'realistic', Dr Ree said the development of anti-allergy pills and injections are on. Such cures are more than welcome considering that the prevalence of asthma has gone up 100 per cent in the last two decades, with hay fever and severe allergic reactions posting an upward trend. As many as 3,000 people in the UK are hospitalized with severe allergic reactions annually, with 20 having succumbed to the health ill in 2005.

About 30 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of children in UK suffer from allergies to some substance or the other, the Royal College of Physicians said, adding that food allergies like those related to peanuts were on the rise. In 1996, one in 200 children was allergic to peanuts, which has now increased to one in 50. “At present the only treatment for food allergy is avoidance and rescue medication. Avoidance is difficult and sometimes even impossible. The one thing we really need for food allergy patients is a treatment that can cure the disease,” Dr Ree said.

According to him, scientists are scrutinizing the possibility of using genetic engineering to render the proteins that cause allergic reactions ineffective. The drugs developed through these techniques will work on the immune system to make it stronger to fight allergies. It is also possible that scientists will modify the protein in the allergenic foods to develop other variants of foods that do not cause allergies.

They are also using weaker variants of the allergenic proteins to develop anti-allergy medicines. “This allows scientists to develop hypo-allergenic variants of these molecules for application in safer immunotherapy that will induce little or no side effects,” Dr Ree said. Some of the foods that are known to cause severe allergies are eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, wheat, and nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, cashew and others.

Dr Ree said that cures for food allergies are likely to hit the market in the next seven to 10 years.


Posted by David at 2:15 PM

August 17, 2006

Casual contact with peanut butter in children with peanut allergy not a threat

A study of the relevance of casual contact with peanut butter in children with peanut allergy showed little risk. The study was conducted at the Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Casual skin contact or inhalation of peanut butter fumes is reported and feared to cause allergic reactions in highly sensitive children with peanut allergy. The study sought to determine the risk of exposure to peanut butter by means of inhalation and skin contact in children with peanut allergy.

Children with peanut allergy who have experienced clinical anaphylaxis underwent double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized exposures to peanut butter by means of contact with intact skin (0.2 mL pressed flat for 1 minute) and inhalation (surface area of 6.3 square inches 12 inches from the face for 10 minutes). Placebo challenges were performed by using soy butter mixed with histamine, and scent was masked.

Thirty children underwent the challenges (median age, 7.7 years old). 13 of the kids had prior history of contact and 11 with inhalation reactions. None experienced a systemic or respiratory reaction. The study showed, with 96% confidence, that at least 90% of highly sensitive children with peanut allergy would not experience a systemic-respiratory reaction from casual exposure to peanut butter.

The conclusion? Casual exposure to peanut butter is unlikely to elicit significant allergic reactions. The researchers did point out that the results cannot be generalized to larger exposures or to contact with peanut in other forms (flour and roasted peanuts).

Go to the 2003 Study

Posted by David at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

August 11, 2006

Breast feed only for first 6 months

Researchers recommend infants receive only breast milk until the child is six months old to prevent food allergies, according to an article by Reuters Health. While there are no specific guidelines to determine when children should begin eating solid foods, allergists say children who receive solid foods within the first four months of life have an increased risk of developing food allergies. The allergists also advise parents to wait until a child is at least 3 years old before allowing them to eat peanuts, cashews, fish and seafood. The report appears in the July issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

From the report...
Pediatricians and allergists should cautiously individualize the introduction of solids into the infants' diet. With assessed risk of allergy, the optimal age for the introduction of selected supplemental foods should be 6 months, dairy products 12 months, hen's egg 24 months, and peanut, tree nuts, fish, and seafood at least 36 months. For all infants, complementary feeding can be introduced from the sixth month, and egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and seafood introduction require caution. Foods should be introduced one at a time in small amounts. Mixed foods containing various food allergens should not be given unless tolerance to every ingredient has been assessed.

Source: Business Wire

Posted by David at 10:06 AM

June 22, 2006

Occurance of Child Food Allergies Skyrocket

source: Chicago Tribune on-line

The treatment for a severe allergic reaction to food has not changed much since the late 19th Century--a quick shot of epinephrine and a rush to the doctor to stave off the rapid closing of airways, brain damage and possibly death.

Medical personnel, from school nurses to chiefs of hospital pediatric departments say such near fatal allergic reactions are becoming more common in children. So three Chicago medical institutions said on Wednesday they will collaborate on an extensive study to determine the cause of the increase and will plead for more federal research funding.

"I've been treating children in the field of allergy immunology for 15 years, and in recent years I've really seen the rates of food allergy skyrocket," said Dr. Jacqueline Pongracic, head of the allergy department at Children's Memorial Hospital. "Where in the past it only represented a small proportion of my practice, now more than half of the children I care for have a food allergy."

Children's Memorial, along with University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, is seeking up to 900 families for an extensive study that may contribute to a cure.

Data on whether there are more children suffering from food allergies now than in years past remain sparse. Estimates have been that from 6 to 8 percent of children under 4 years old have food allergies, but some experts believe the percentage is growing.

Dr. Scott Sicherer, of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, participated in a study that found allergic reactions to peanuts had jumped to 1 in 125 in 2002 from 1 in 250 in 1997.

"There are no studies looking in this country at whether the rate of food allergies has increased over long periods of time," Sicherer said. "However there are studies showing increases in other allergic diseases ... asthma, hay fever. If you put together all those sentences, or if you walk into any school and ask the school nurse if there has been more food allergies, all those things will lead to yes responses."

The accumulation of largely anecdotal evidence has prompted action in Chicago and elsewhere.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, announced last year it would spend $17 million over five years for a food allergy research consortium at Mt. Sinai in New York.

Spending on food-allergy research by the allergy institute more than doubled last year to $7.7 million.

But that remains a paltry sum, according to the researchers who gathered at Children's Memorial on Wednesday. They called on Congress to allocate $50 million annually for food-allergy research.


Posted by David at 9:22 PM

June 12, 2006

Australian Study Shows Nut Allergies Doubled


The number of children with allergic reactions to nuts has doubled in the past 15 years based on a new study which found 86 per cent of all childcare centres had at least one child with a potentially fatal food allergy.

Parents with children suffering from food allergies have expressed concern that school yards are one of their greatest fears because of the risk their children may be exposed to something that will cause a severe or fatal reaction.

Food allergies impact on 6 per cent of people and eight foods account for 90 per cent of all food-allergic reactions. These are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts (walnut, cashew, etc.), fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

Misunderstandings of food allergies have directly lead to the death of people from anaphylaxis.

Anne Swain, head dietician at Sydney's Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinic, said there was clear evidence more children were suffering from food allergies compared with 15 years ago.

"We have just completed a survey at Prince Alfred Hospital and 2 per cent of all children under five have a peanut allergy – previously it was less than 1 per cent," Ms Swain said.

"It's not just more awareness of food allergies. There is definitely an increase. The survey showed that egg and milk allergies have not increased, but nut allergies have doubled.

"There are a whole lot of theories why. One of the main ones is there are more nuts in our environment.

"People choosing vegetarian diets eat more nuts – there are more nuts in breakfast cereals and people are using peanut butter as a spread for small children."


Posted by David at 7:55 AM

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 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."


Posted by David at 8:08 PM

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

April 17, 2006

Peanut Allergy Risk Associated with Exposure to Peanut in Infancy

Exposure to peanut during infancy promotes sensitization, but low levels may protect atopic children, according to a new study presented today at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Adam T. Fox, MD, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom, and colleagues hypothesized that peanut sensitization occurs as a result of exposure. The study was a survey of children with suspected peanut allergy and also looked to see what affect early exposure to peanuts had on the children for later allergy. Questions on the survey ranged from how much peanut the mother ate during pregnancy to how much peanut was eaten by other family members during the child's first year of life. Exposure was compared in three groups of children of the same age: Children with peanut allergy, children with egg allergy but not peanut sensitized and non-allergic children. The average weekly peanut consumption for the allergic children was 77.2g, while the totally non-allergic children averaged 29.1g.

The study concluded that exposure to peanuts during infancy promotes sensitization, and that low levels may protect atopic children. In addition, researchers didn't observe any signs that mothers eating peanuts during pregnancy or breast feeding lead to the children developing the allergy.

source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Posted by David at 8:45 AM

April 13, 2006

Allergic Anaphylaxis Often Unreported and Untreated

Life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to foods are under-diagnosed and under-treated, both in the community and in the emergency room, according to researchers here.

So found two studies -- from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the Albany (N.Y.) Medical College -- that were reported at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology meeting.

"Anaphylaxis has for decades been considered a rare disease, even by physicians, even by other health care professionals," said F. Estelle R. Simons, M.D., of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, who is president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

But in fact, the rate of anaphylaxis -- not just anaphylactic shock, but any type of acute, severe allergic reaction -- is likely much higher than published estimates, said Dr. Simons, because many episodes of anaphylaxis occur outside the emergency room.

"They experience anaphylaxis at home, at school, at camp, or on a plane or a bus or wherever they may happen to be," she said.

A consensus panel of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases defined anaphylaxis as "acute onset of illness (within minutes to several hours) with involvement of the skin, mucosal tissue or both," following exposure to an allergenic substance, combined with one or more of the following: respiratory compromise, reduced blood pressure or associated symptoms of end-organ dysfunction, involvement of skin or mucosal tissues such as hives, and persistent gastrointestinal symptoms."

But even when anaphylaxis is recognized correctly in the emergency room, only about half of the patients receive epinephrine to treat it, although about a quarter of all such patients have symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization, reported researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Carlos Camargo, M.D., Dr. Ph., and colleagues drew on the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to sample data on emergency department visits from 1993 to 2003.

They included all cases with a diagnosis of acute allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis, as identified by diagnostic codes for angioneurotic edema, unspecified adverse effect of drug, medicinal or biological substances when properly administered, unspecified allergy, and anaphylactic shock, food allergy, and other anaphylactic shocks.

They found that acute allergic reactions account for more than one million emergency department visits each year, but only about 1% were recorded as anaphylaxis.

But that 1% "is very different from our experience, where we found that 30% to 50% of acute allergic reactions in the emergency room are anaphylaxis," said Dr. Camargo.


Posted by David at 11:38 AM

April 4, 2006

Child Food Allergy Survey

New research from the University of Maryland shows that parents take special care to tend to their kids’ food allergies. The study appears in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Doctor Mary Bollinger’s team studied 87 families with children treated at the University of Maryland Allergy Practice for food allergies. Parents completed a survey covering topics including grocery shopping, meal preparation, and kids’ social activities.
Most parents reported that their child’s food allergy significantly affected meal preparation, grocery shopping, and social activities.
Most of the children in Bollinger’s study were allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, or shellfish. On average, they avoided four foods due to food allergies.

Kids’ food allergies also had a major social impact. Other activities including birthday parties, field trips, and sleepovers at friends’ houses were often affected by kids’ food allergies. If you've been parenting a food allergic child for awhile, you know the challenges at these events oh so well.

Working with the school nurse and staff can be so challenging that 10% of parents said they homeschooled their child because of the child’s food allergies.

A concerning finding is the parents who said they avoided (although not totally banned) letting their child take part in these activities:

> Playing at friends’ houses: 11 percent

> Day care or after-school care: 14 percent

> School parties or birthday parties: 10 percent

> Sleepovers at friends’ houses: 26 percent

> Camp: 26 percent

While relatively few parents totally banned those activities, many noted that their child’s food allergy had significantly affected those activities. Most parents noted food-allergy impact on social activities outside the home.

We've addressed this issue by bringing safe foods for our kids to outside events and rarely rely on others to have sufficient knowledge of label reading and cross-contamination issues. We realized early in our food allergy parenting research that even in educated environments, food allergic children can have exposures that lead to serious reactions.

Research Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Posted by David at 8:56 AM | Comments (2)

March 20, 2006

Peanut Allergy Cure is Getting Closer

For peanut allergy sufferers, including 1.5 million U.S. adults and children who live each day afraid that one mistaken bite may cause a deadly reaction, a cure may be on the horizon. A new series of studies published in the July 2003 Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology indicates that scientists are closer to finding a cure for peanut allergy, according to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).

"Carefully reading labels, asking questions about ingredients at restaurants and carrying epinephrine are a way of life for peanut allergy sufferers," said Anne Muñoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of FAAN. "So is hoping that scientists will one day find a cure. The future looks promising."

The series of articles, the first of its kind for peanut allergy, covers topics including the latest information on causes, diagnosis and treatment of reactions, better understanding of who might outgrow peanut allergy and potential new therapies to desensitize patients. One study also has immediate ramifications for asthma sufferers, linking food allergy as a significant risk factor for life-threatening asthma.

The findings are critical for school administrators, child care providers, the food industry, restaurants, airlines and physicians and other health care providers. "We must continue to improve education about food allergies, symptom recognition, the use of epinephrine and other emergency responses," said Muñoz-Furlong. "Today, improved knowledge and quick response times are the best cures against deadly reactions."

Allergic food reactions, particularly peanut allergy, are on the rise. Peanut allergy is believed to be the leading cause of severe or life-threatening food-induced anaphylaxis, causing an estimated 15,000 emergency room visits each year and nearly 100 deaths. Peanuts, along with milk, eggs, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds and pecans, for example), fish, shellfish, soy and wheat account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions in the United States. Food allergy-induced reactions are estimated to account for tens of thousands of allergic reactions each year and 30,000 emergency room visits.

"When someone is diagnosed with a food allergy," added Muñoz-Furlong, "they can't just go home and avoid milk, eggs or peanuts. To avoid reactions they must learn the technical names for these foods, read ingredient labels and teach others -- including restaurant staff, educators, babysitters and coaches &endash; how to recognize and treat reactions when they occur."

In spite of best efforts at avoidance, reactions will occur. "Every time a food-allergic individual puts something in their mouth, they must be ready to treat a reaction. Some people say a silent prayer that the food they are about to eat won't kill them."

Each year, peanut allergy causes nearly 100 deaths, more than 15,000 emergency room visits, and tens of thousands of milder reactions handled at home. For the 1.5 million Americans who are allergic to peanuts, reading labels, asking questions about ingredients at restaurants, and carrying epinephrine is a way of life.

The studies provide hope. Hope that scientists will one day find a cure for peanut allergy. Based on the findings, the future looks brighter for the millions of patients and their families who live each day in fear that one bite of a food containing peanuts may cause a deadly reaction.

Still, the best practices for now are avoidance and the immediate administration of epinephrine if a reaction occurs. And most importantly, we must continue to educate. Educate patients, health care professionals, school personnel, businesses, and the population at large on the dangers of food allergy reactions.

We still have a ways to go. Most people ask themselves, "What's the big deal? Why can't these people just not eat peanut butter and take care of themselves?" Believe me, they wish they could.

When someone is diagnosed with a food allergy, they can't just go home and avoid milk, eggs, or peanuts. To avoid reactions, patients must learn the technical names for these foods and read ingredient labels. Would you know that peanuts are also called monkey nuts? ground nuts? mandelonas? Additionally, one company listed them by the type of peanut -- Valencias.

Then, there are instances where the peanuts are found unexpectedly -- reactions have occurred in restaurants from peanuts or peanut butter in hot chocolate, chili sauce, spring rolls, enchiladas, egg rolls, pie crusts, as well as a variety of desserts.

Patients must teach others, including restaurant staff, educators, babysitters, and coaches, how to recognize and to treat reactions when they occur.

In spite of best efforts at avoidance, reactions will occur. The majority of reactions occur outside the home, often in restaurant settings and sometimes in schools. Always unexpected.

If a waiter, waitress, or member of the kitchen staff in a restaurant doesn't take food allergies seriously, his or her mistake can land someone in the hospital or worse. For example, one woman died, even though she'd informed the waiter about her peanut allergy. The cause? The lamb chops she ordered had been marinated in a mixture containing peanut butter.

A young man died and another had a near fatal reaction after eating cookies from a vending machine. Although years apart, in both cases, the company had large amounts of undeclared peanuts in the cookie dough.

It's not just about peanuts -- other food allergies call for the same type of caution and can cause severe or fatal reactions.

And finally, while FAAN members report improvement in the management of food allergies at school, reactions continue to occur when food, particularly peanuts, are used as part of a craft project or when food is brought in from the outside for special class celebrations.

As you can see, food allergy avoidance is not easy. Peanut allergy reactions continue to rise. Food allergy, particularly peanut allergy, has become a public health and food safety concern whose wake has been felt by everyone -- from the government, to food industry, restaurants, schools, health professionals, and patients.

The studies show us that there is hope, but we must not let our guard down. FAAN will continue to take the lead on education, awareness, advocacy and research. But until there is a cure, education and proper diagnosis from an allergist is the key to preventing reactions.

source: The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Posted by David at 7:18 PM

March 15, 2006

Potential herbal formula solution for peanut allergy

source: Reuters Health

Treatment of peanut allergic mice with the Chinese herbal formula known as FAHF-2 completely blocks peanut-induced allergic reactions for up to 6 months following therapy and full protection is restored following a second course of FAHF-2, investigators report.

These observations, if reproducible in humans, suggest that this Chinese herbal formula may be a highly effective treatment for peanut allergy, study investigators say. The findings were presented Tuesday in Miami at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's annual meeting.

Following treatment with FAHF-2 for 7 weeks, peanut-allergic mice were completely protected against peanut-induced reactions following oral challenges administered up to 34 weeks after treatment, lead investigator Dr. Kamal D. Srivastava from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York reported.

Subsequent challenges at week 40 and 50 showed "only modest declines" in protection, the team reports, with 1 in 10 mice reacting to peanut challenge at week 40 and 3 in 10 at week 50.

Full protection was restored with re-treatment with FAHF-2; no mouse reacted to oral peanut challenge administered at week 66.

"This is a significant finding in terms of the duration of protection with a single course of treatment that can be taken orally, making it an effective and convenient treatment that can be administered at home," Srivastava told Reuters Health.


Posted by David at 11:41 AM

March 10, 2006

Waiting for Mr Goodbar to Clear

Peanut allergic individuals need to be careful of contact they have with those who have eaten products with peanuts, especially peanut butter. Allergens can linger in saliva for hours, meaning that people who are peanut allergic should be extremely with a kiss. So, hold off Auntie Deb, on that big kiss on your niece after enjoying your Peanut Butter Pattie cookie.

"A concern that becomes more pressing as peanut-allergic individuals enter pre-adolescence and adolescence is the concern about kissing, and especially with passionate kissing there is a risk for allergens to be transmitted in saliva," said Jennifer Maloney, M.D., of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Peanut-allergic patients can indeed suffer severe allergic or anaphylactic reactions when they come into contact with the oral fluids of a peanut eater. Dr. Maloney and her colleagues conducted a two-part study in which they measured levels of peanut antigens in saliva at various time points, and then evaluated various methods for washing them away.

They first asked 10 healthy volunteers to eat a sandwich containing two tablespoons of peanut butter. They then investigated which if any of several interventions might help to wash the allergens away. These included brushing teeth for two minutes, brushing plus rinsing twice with a "swish-and-spit" technique, rinsing twice alone, or chewing gum after waiting for thirty minutes post-peanut butter. The chewing gum intervention was delayed because the oils in peanut butter can break down the gum's consistency, which is why it's used to remove gum from hair.

"What we found, and this is a little bit surprising, three out of our 10 participants actually did not have measurable peanut in their saliva at five minutes after eating the sandwich," said Dr. Maloney.

Of the remaining seven volunteers, six cleared the allergen out of their saliva within one hour, and in the one person in whom Ara h 1 was detectable at the one-hour mark, the allergen had cleared by 4.5 hours.

"From this point of our investigation we can conclude that peanut is detectable in the majority of subjects after eating a meal with peanuts, and secondly we can conclude that it does leave the saliva over several hours," said Dr. Maloney.

When they looked at the intervention, they found that no single intervention was uniformly successful at removing peanut allergen from saliva, although in eight of nine gum chewers the peanut was removed from their saliva.

The best approach? Have boyfriends or girlfriends completely avoid the peanut foods. Dr. Maloney states, "However, if this isn't possible, we think that waiting several hours, possibly eating a meal in between would reduce levels below what would be a clinical problem, and that most likely would be a safe approach as well."

source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Posted by David at 8:36 AM

March 2, 2006

What about babies, food introduction and food allergies?

OK, my very non-medical opinion is that children are wired for food allergies, well before they make their first appearance into this world. A study published in Pediatrics, February 2006, states, “Delaying the introduction of solid food beyond 6 months of age does not protect against the development of allergic dermatitis, the results of a new study show. However, delayed introduction of solid food for the first 4 months of life ‘might offer some protection.’" Isn’t it common sense and standard pediatric practice not to introduce solid foods before 4 months of age? I guess some parents might still add rice cereal to formula or breast milk for various reasons.

Years ago, when I became pregnant, I thought I was well aware of the food allergy do’s and don’ts because I already had one child with food allergies. It was mostly the “don’ts” I listened to: don’t eat peanuts or tree nuts, don’t eat shellfish, don’t eat eggs, don’t consume dairy when you’re breastfeeding, don’t supplement with formula, don’t laugh too much (OK, I just threw that one in!). I thought if I avoided so many allergens, my child would grow up allergy free. WRONG!

This same study reports, “There was also no evidence to support a protective role of delaying the introduction of solid foods on the development of allergic dermatitis and sensitization in children who had parents with allergies.” So, unless I changed my baby’s mother and father (right!), then she was destined to have allergies. And she does. Lots of them! And eczema. Lots of that too!

I’m not suggesting that people introduce allergens into an infant’s diet because it doesn’t matter, I just think people shouldn’t get their hopes up. Our genetic make-up is what it is. So, we should educate ourselves and surround ourselves with a knowledgeable support network. You know, people who actually LIVE with food allergies, not those who are quick to offer advice but don’t really get it!

In a state of frustration at a time when ALL of my children were suffering rather intensely from respiratory allergies, I once asked my allergist if it could be the house we lived in. She looked at me rather empathetically, and said, “No, dear. It’s your genes.”


Posted by Ann Marie at 5:44 PM

January 19, 2006

Genentech stops a clinical trial of an allergy reaction drug


Genentech, Inc., recently ranked the #1 company to work for by Forbes magazine, stopped a clinical trial of a drug it hopes can be used to prevent peanut-allergy reactions, citing safety concerns not with the drug itself but with an allergy test.

The South San Francisco, Calif., biotechnology company said two children in the 150-person trial experienced "severe hypersensitivity reactions" when given a trace amount of peanut protein, an initial step designed to gauge the severity of a patient's allergies. Neither child had received the drug, called Xolair, the company said. Xolair is on the market, approved as a treatment for allergic asthma.

"We had always been very nervous about that study," said Susan Desmond-Hellmann, head of product development for Genentech. "We are not going to do that anymore."

Cancellation of the Xolair trial means that an approved treatment for peanut allergy remains years away at the earliest. Dr. Desmond-Hellmann said Genentech may explore the possibility of moving straight to a large-scale trial that wouldn't involve a peanut "challenge," as the allergic-reaction test is called. Instead, such a trial might track volunteers over an extended period of time, to determine if those receiving Xolair experienced fewer accidental peanut reactions than those taking a placebo.

"It's going to take a long time, and it's going to be hard work, but it's better than exposing someone we know to be allergic" to peanuts, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann said.

The setback is the latest delay in a long and fitful effort to find a drug that can blunt the serious consequences of peanut allergy. The condition, which affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, can lead to life-threatening anaphylactic shock if allergic individuals ingest even a trace amount of peanut flour or oil. In November, a 15-year-old Canadian girl with the allergy died reportedly after a kiss from her boyfriend, who had earlier eaten a peanut-butter snack.


Posted by David at 1:41 AM

January 11, 2006

Food Allergens Other Names

The new federal labeling law requires manufacturers to more clearly identify ingredients associated with the top eight food allergens. Here is a guide that identifies the other names for these allergens. Remember, this is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Peanuts is also known as: natural and artificial flavoring (yes, we know that isn’t much help).

Egg is also known as: albumin, lysozyme, globulin, ovumucin, vitellin, Simplesse™.

Milk is also known as: calcium, whey, lactose, casein

Fish is also known as: shellfish, agar, carrageenan.

Soy is also known as: guar gum, vegetable protein, lecithin, carob, starch, emulsifiers, flavorings, stabilizers (again, not much help).

Wheat is also known as: gluten, semolina, modified food starch, MSG, vegetable gum.

Tree nuts includes: cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, filberts, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamias, natural and artificial flavoring.

source: food allergy network

Posted by David at 8:35 AM | Comments (1)

December 27, 2005

Food Allergy Research Consortium Focuses on Peanut Allergy

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) estimates 4 percent of Americans have potentially life-threatening food allergies. Researchers in a new Food Allergy Research Consortium are developing therapies to treat and prevent peanut allergy.

The consortium, led by Hugh Sampson, M.D., at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, will receive approximately $17 million over five years from NIAID. In addition, another grant will fund a statistical center to support the consortium – finally, there will be some better data to study. The consortium will conduct basic, clinical and epidemiological studies, and develop educational programs aimed at parents, children and healthcare providers.

The consortium’s first project will be a clinical study to evaluate a potential peanut allergy therapy. This potential therapy is expected to work in much the same fashion as allergy shots in which allergic individuals are given increasing doses of an allergen. The shots stimulate an immune response that protects against future allergic reactions. The existing approach, however, cannot be used in people with peanut allergies due to the risk of life-threatening reactions. To overcome this barrier, Dr. Sampson and Wesley Burks, M.D., of Duke University, Durham, NC, developed modified versions of peanut allergens that have been shown to be safe and effective in animal models.

The consortium will evaluate these modified allergens in human clinical trials led by Robert Wood, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. The clinical and observational studies will take place at five clinical sites.

For information about participating in the Food Allergy Research Consortium’s clinical and observational studies, please call the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Pediatric Allergy Division, at (212) 241-5548. For more information on NIAID visit their web site.

Posted by David at 8:03 AM

December 21, 2005

Mayo Clinic on Outgrowing Peanut Allergy

An online Mayo Clinic article discusses growing out of peanut allergies.

According to the article, about 20 - 25 percent of children with peanut allergy will outgrow it but there is a risk that the allergy may return. It is estimated that peanut allergy affects 1 - 2 percent of young children.

Even when a child appears to outgrow peanut allergy, there is a small risk it will recur. A study published in November 2004 suggested that the way to reduce the risk of recurrence is to encourage the child to eat peanuts on a regular basis. This may seem odd advice to parents who have drilled a fear of peanuts into their children. But the study found peanut allergy was much less likely to return in children who ate peanuts at least once a month after developing a tolerance for them than in children who largely avoided peanuts.

Now, that is a scarey thought, feeding my daughter peanuts on a regular basis. I understand the theory but what a huge shift in thinking that would take from both her and us! I look forward to that day.

Remember kids with known peanut allergy (or any other child food allergy) should only be tested by a board-certified allergist before making any conclusions about them outgrowing a food allergy.

Because peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, your child should still continue to carry epinephrine, even if it is determined that your child has outgrown peanut allergy. Better safe than sorry.

Posted by David at 7:46 AM

December 19, 2005

Outgrowing Child Food Allergy Study

Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in a study reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology have found that 9 percent of children with child food allergies to almonds, pecans, cashews and other tree nuts outgrow their allergy over time. This is true even for those who've had a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis shock. This conclusion does not include peanuts.

Clinicians can use blood levels of tree nut antibody ( TN-IgE ) as an accurate guideline in estimating the likelihood that a child has outgrown the allergy.

"Allergic reactions to tree nuts as well as peanuts can be quite severe, and they are generally thought to be lifelong," says senior author Robert Wood, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Children's Center. Our research shows that for some children, however, lifelong avoidance of these nuts, found in countless food products, may not be necessary."

In the United States, an estimated one to two percent of the population is allergic to tree nuts. Tree nuts include almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts. Wood and colleagues previously reported that as many as 20 percent of children outgrow peanut allergy and recommended that allergists periodically retest their patients. The current study explored whether the same held true for tree nuts.

Wood and colleagues evaluated 278 children with a known allergy to tree nuts. Nine percent passed oral food challenges, the standard test to prove a child has outgrown a food allergy. Fifty-eight percent of children with TN-IgE levels of 5 kilounits per liter or less also passed the challenge. The study also found that children who are allergic to more than one type of tree nut are unlikely to outgrow their allergy.

"These findings give allergists a safe guideline in deciding whether to advise their patients to continue avoiding tree nuts, or whether it's time to try an oral food challenge to see if they've outgrown the allergy," says Wood. He cautioned that oral food challenges should be presented only under the close supervision of an allergist.

Posted by David at 9:20 AM

December 17, 2005

The Real Facts on Food Allergy Trends?

Its hard to get your arms around the real child food allergy trends because the press offers so many differing views of the data. In some cases, from the same source!

From The Olympian Online article... It's estimated that 2 million children have some sort of food allergy — 600,000 of them to peanuts, says Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). The nonprofit organization in Virginia works to raise awareness of the seriousness of such allergies.

Peanut allergies alone doubled from 1997 to 2002, she said.

From HelenAir ... In the past five years peanut allergies in children have doubled. The estimated number of Americans with food allergies has increased from 6 million to approximately 11 million, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

According to FAAN, peanut allergies kill nearly 100 people a year in the United States and account for about 30,000 emergency room visits.

From an online article on, some studies estimate that about 1 percent of the U.S. population, or 3 million people, suffer from peanut allergies. Others place the rate closer to 4 percent of the population - about 12 million people.

One report issued in 2003 from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology got a lot of media attention this week. It says the number of peanut allergies in children doubled from 1997 to 2002.

Posted by David at 9:15 AM | Comments (1)

December 2, 2005

Child Food Allergies - a Growing Threat?

In his article, Doctors Debate the Risks of Common Food Allergies, ABC news report Marc Lallanilla talks about the increasing number of children who have developed allergies to peanuts and other common foods, and the difficulty in finding the cause.

We've heard the reports of peanut allergies in children increasing twofold in less than 10 years. Now about four percent of the U.S. population, estimated at more than 11 million people, have food allergies. Maybe increasing awareness is causing a spike in reports of allergies?

Awareness may have a lot to do with it. Both parents and doctors are increasingly aware of child food allergies. Is this what is driving the statistical increase in child food allergies? As in any other topic, there are differing points of view.

Posted by David at 8:42 AM

December 1, 2005

Why is peanut allergy on the rise?

An(UPI) article released this week stated that children in the USA are more likely to develop peanut allergy than those in developing countries and researchers can only hypothesize as to why.

Now about 1 percent of the U.S. population younger than 18 have peanut allergy (this does not include other food allergies). That rate is higher than most developing countries.

So why is this happening?
Some possibilities include: 1) increasingly clean U.S. homes where children's immune systems are tested less often in the early years, using roasting of rather than boiling of peanuts to cook them, and avoidance of peanuts until children are at least 3 years old.

Posted by David at 7:23 PM

November 11, 2005

There is hope in outgrowing child food allergies

A new study came out about childhood food allergies, specifically peanut allergy and tree nut allergy. The study found that 9% of children allergic to tree nuts outgrow their allergy over time, including those who’ve had a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis shock. The research was done at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and was funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

The results are reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. One conclusion was that children with these allergies should be regularly re-evaluated. Previously reported research stated that up to 20% of children outgrow peanut allergy.

278 children, ages 3 to 21 years old, with a known allergy to tree nuts were evaluated. 9% of subjects passed oral food challenges, a standard test to see if a child has outgrown a food allergy. The test should only be done by the allergist... DON'T try this at home.

The study also found that, of children allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts, those who had outgrown their peanut allergy were more likely to outgrow the tree nut allergy. Children who are allergic to more than one type of tree nut are unlikely to outgrow their allergy.

Posted by David at 11:06 AM