ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
CAREGIVING
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Eating Vegan or Raw-Vegan at Regular Restaurants
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Showerheads Harbor a Bounty of Germs
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
FITNESS
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
Parents Influence Sex Decisions, Hispanic Teens Say
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
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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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