ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
CANCER
Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
DIET, NUTRITION
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Topical Drugs May Pollute Waterways
EYE CARE, VISION
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Internet Program Helps Problem Drinkers
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Hidden Salt in Diet Haunts Many With Heart Failure
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
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Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The number of U.S. children allergic to foods such as peanuts, milk and fish is rising rapidly.

At the same time, researchers are working on new approaches to treating these allergies, according to two reports to be presented Monday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's annual meeting, in Seattle.

An estimated 3 million children under 18 had a food allergy in 2007, an 18 percent increase since 1997, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The problem is even more than numbers," said Dr. Sami L. Bahna, a professor of pediatrics and medicine and chief of allergy and immunology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. "The severity of food allergies is going up."

There has been an increase in severe rashes; severe attacks of airway obstruction, called anaphylaxis; and intestinal problems, Bahna said.

What's more, the method of exposure that results in an allergic reaction is also changing, Bahna said. "People used to react by eating the food, but there are many people now that react by touching or smelling the food," he said.

Food allergies aren't the only allergies on the rise, Bahna said. "All the allergies are increasing -- asthma, hay fever, eczema," he said.

Several factors are contributing to the increase in allergies, the expert said. The first is the so-called "hygiene hypothesis," which holds that people in industrialized countries are living in increasingly sterile environments. As a result, their immune systems don't have to fight as many infections, so those systems can become hyperactive.

"When there is some degree of unhygienic conditions, the immune system from infancy adapts and develops to fight infection," Bahna said. "Cleanliness, antibiotics, whether they are needed or not, and vaccinations are allowing the immune system to develop as if 'I don't need you,' " he said.

Other reasons include the increased use of antacids among children, which prevents stomach acid from doing its job, and the increased use of multivitamins, which is associated with an increase in allergies, Bahna said.

Also, eating more highly allergenic foods such as fish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs and soy, as well as the increasing rates of childhood obesity, contribute to the rise in allergies, Bahna said. And, eating out hikes the risk for food allergies because you don't have total control over what you're eating. The ingredients in processed foods can also trigger allergic reactions, according to Bahna.

Allergic reactions can be severe -- even deadly. Current treatment is limited to avoidance of problematic foods and treating the symptoms of the reaction, Bahna said. But new treatments may be on the way.

Dr. Robert A. Wood, director of pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was scheduled to discuss potential new treatments for food allergies at the meeting on Monday. These include anti-IgE antibodies, a Chinese herbal remedy and immunotherapy.

Anti-IgE therapy disrupts the sequence of events that causes an allergic reaction. The treatment appears to work in about 75 percent of patients. Its drawbacks are that it must be given continuously and it does not work in the patient who is too allergic. There are also concerns about its safety and cost, Wood said.

A first clinical trial of the Chinese herbal formula FAHF-2 is also underway, Wood said. In experiments with mice, scientists found that peanut allergy was significantly reduced using this remedy.

The most promising approach appears to be immunotherapy, which is something Wood is involved in developing. In this treatment, tolerance is increased by giving patients increasing amounts of an allergen over time.

"This is sort of the allergy-shot model," he said, adding that several small studies have been promising. "We are cautiously optimistic that we are on the right path," he said.

Another presentation scheduled for the meeting looked at adults allergic to red meat. Researchers discovered that an IgE antibody to the carbohydrate galactose-a-1,3-galactose, which was found in patients who develop an allergy to beef, pork or lamb, seemed to explain the reaction.

Another study to be presented found that schools in one district in Greenville, S.C., had different action plans to deal with allergic reactions to food. The researchers found that fewer than 50 percent of the children with food allergies were on an action plan, however.

More information

To learn more about food allergies, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: Robert A. Wood, M.D., professor, pediatrics and international health, and director, pediatric allergy and immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; Sami L. Bahna, M.D., Dr.Ph., professor, pediatrics and medicine, chief of allergy and immunology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport; Nov. 10, 2008, presentations, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting, Seattle

Last Updated: Nov. 10, 2008

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