ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
CANCER
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
The Best Diet? That Depends on You
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Football Can Shrink Players
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Add your Article

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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