ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
CANCER
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
CAREGIVING
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Coffee Drinking Lowers Women's Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
FITNESS
Maximize Your Run
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Sleep and Do Better
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
A Honey of a Sinusitis Treatment
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
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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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