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Kids And Food Allergies

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

Why do so many kids have food allergies? We explore cutting-edge treatments and impact on families, schools and more.



Food allergies are making parents, kids and entire communities a little nutty these days.. The number of children with food allergies is on the rise in a big way. One in 13 kids. Up 18%.

The list of allergies reads like a grocery list: nuts, milk, eggs, fish, wheat, and more. Schools are going nut free. Epi-pens carried everywhere.  Just try figuring what to serve at a kid’s birthday party that won’t end with a trip to the ER. There’s new research, theories, and cutting-edge treatments. And a whole lot of questions.

This hour, On Point: Behind the rise of food allergies and our kids.


Dr. Wayne, G. Shreffler, director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. (@wayneshreffler)

Dr. Ruchi Gupta, physician and professor of pediatrics. Author of “Food Allergy Experience: Real voices. Real disease. Real insights.” (@ruchisgupta)

Paul Antico, founder and CEO of AllergyEats.com. Three of his five kids have food allergies.

From The Reading List

Slate: Please Don’t Spill Your Child’s Snacks All Over the Playground — “Spring came to St. Louis a little later this year than it usually does, and the playgrounds where I go with my children are finally overrun with joyful kids. They’re also overrun with food. Other parents may not notice that fact, but I do: My 2-year-old daughter, Claire, is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and dairy, and many common playground snacks would be dangerous to her if she ate them.”

The New York Times: The Allergy Buster: Can a Radical New Treatment Save Children With Severe Food Allergies? – “For nine years, the greatest challenge Kim Yates Grosso faced each day was keeping her daughter Tessa safe. Tessa was so severely allergic to milk, wheat, eggs, nuts, shellfish and assorted other foods that as a toddler she went into anaphylactic shock when milk fell on her skin. Kim never left her with a baby sitter. She slept with her each night. And when she needed to work, she found a job she could do primarily from home in the evenings.”

ABC News: 6 Things You Need to Know About Food Allergies — “What if getting lunch with a friend could be deadly? That’s a real possibility for someone with a serious food allergy. Every year, up to 200 people with food allergies die from anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction characterized by a variety of symptoms including shortness of breath, low blood pressure and vomiting and swelling. About 1 percent of the overall population, including 8 percent of children, lives with food allergies, and the prevalence is on the rise.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.mahinfar Stephen Stevie R Mahinfar

    all about your self have as problem with kids not always some of people have it yet all family did not know that have its problem i am stephen mahinfar i am not doctor i am talking about all people have it 

    • MarkVII88


      • jefe68

        I concur, huh?

  • donniethebrasco

    Their parents lie.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

       Are you kidding?

    • jefe68

      What is wrong with you?
      Do you post statements like this because you think it’s funny (which it is not) or is it because you truly are a misanthrope.

      • Acnestes

        This kid is just a jerk looking for attention.  I propose we all agree to ignore him and refrain from responding to his spew.

      • J__o__h__n

        There is nothing wrong with funny misanthropes.  He just isn’t funny. 

        • jefe68

          Ture that.

    • Acnestes

      You think your cute, but you’re just a snotty junior high kid.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Studies continue to show that the chemicals that the processed food industry puts in their products are having significant effects on the behavior our children. One study conducted in the UK was very disconcerting and was cited here in the American Academy of Pediatrics http://aapgrandrounds.aappublications.org/content/19/2/17.1.extract

    Industry has been pumping synthetic chemicals into our food supplies of several generations now, is it any surprise that we’re now seeing increasing rates of behavioral and physiological pathologies?

    Would there be any surprise to find that these chemicals effect a developing fetus?

    • jefe68

      I wonder about this myself.
      I was brought up in a home in the 60′s and 70′s were there was not a lot of processed food, but there was some. The only allergy I had was strawberries, which I out grew. I knew some who were allergic to shellfish, this is a serious allergy as it can lead to death. Then there are people who have strong reactions to peanuts.
      This is one that is now more prevalent than before.
      I don’t remember anyone having this in school when I was a kid. I know it’s a serious allergy, but I’m also wondering why it’s grown in terms of numbers.

      In the 80′s there was an explosion of processed food along with the huge growth of the fast food industry that seems to be in parallel to food allergies and obesity.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        My experience and recollections are the same…

        I will add that I developed a sensitivity to aspartame.  I started getting headaches after eating creamsicle floats that I made at home with vanilla ice cream and a diet orange soda. Tracked it down to the soda through experimentation. Isolated it to anything with asparatame… a neurotoxin… just google ‘aspartame neurotoxin’.

        I have no other known sensitivities except certain perfumes… oddly I tolerate occasional minor exposure to gasoline and paint thinner with no side effects.

        Nuf Sed on that one artificial food additive

      • Acnestes

        Along the same lines, I grew up through the 50′s and 60′s and was in some large schools.  Asthma then was pretty unusual, and I think I knew one kid who had it  Now it’s practically an epidemic.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      No surprise whatsoever. I would also imagine that extensive overuse of antibiotics has played no small role.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        That could also be a factor… add in the high- fructose-corn-syrup-super-size-me diet and we have a perfect storm of industry driven devolution of the human race.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “Why do so many kids have food allergies?”
    Unintended consequences?
    Don’t fret though, it’s good for Business…

  • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

    I am so tired of this meme that “When I went to school I didn’t know anyone with allergies…”. I have a peanut allergy I acquired in the 1960s. One of my siblings was hospitalized for his food allergy eczema in the 50s. All of my 1950s born sibs have food allergies.

    We just didn’t make a big public deal out of this stuff. It was our family’s issue and we didn’t burden everyone else with it, and expect them to accommodate us. And we didn’t engage in tedious chatter about our gross skin conditions or digestive consequences.

    It’s like a lot of other issues that are now publicly acceptable for discussion, which were previously just private.

    • MarkVII88

      Someone goes to the doctor and says “Doc, my arm hurts when I lift it over my head.  What should I do?”  The doctor says “Don’t lift your arm over your head.”  I use this joke as an example of how allergies were treated decades ago.  People just stayed away from things/foods they were allergic to.  It was easier b/c of less processed food etc. than we have now.  Anyway, with the explosion of medicine and scientific knowledge in the last 20 years, more is known about how allergic reactions work and how to treat them.  Therefore, more people are seeking treatments and coming out about their allergies.  This doesn’t necessarily explain the expectation for accommodations on the part of those with allergies but I imagine this has something to do with our more vocal and demanding society now.  Not that it’s necessarily  unreasonable to expect your kid’s school lunch won’t kill them.

      • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

        Quite so on the increasing diagnosis vs increase in actual incidence.

        What do people with bee or wasp sting allergies do? Demand everyone keep bees out of their presence? Make everyone play indoors?

        There are plenty of allergic situations to entirely natural and unprocessed items. And there are plenty of ways for individuals to manage their school lunch not killing them. The demands for accommodations are disproportionate to the situations.

        • maresenn

          To begin, I am the mother of 2 toddlers, both of whom have severe food allergies. One has been in the ER numerous times; he was also given an EpiPen at 18mos. This was followed by an ambulance ride and hospital stay. They both have had numerous tests to confirm their allergies. In fact, they are seen by Dr Schreffler’s team.

          Next, bees are visible. They can be avoided. Food protein is invisible. This leads to accidental exposure. Most people do not own bees. Everyone eats. As Americans, most of us have a sense of entitlement about eating whatever we want whenever and wherever we’d like. This means that this invisible food protein is left on many surfaces where little kids play and learn.

          In terms of the school setting, asking for certain foods (tree nuts/peanuts) to be left at home and for other foods to be eaten only in certain locations is a reasonable expectation. 

          I am quite sure were you to have a family member with this disability, one whom you’d miss were they to die because of exposure to an allergen, you’d be less flippant and more compassionate.

          • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

            Do you entirely lack reading comprehension? I have nut allergy. Everyone in my family has allergies. If you demanded that everyone leave every food we are allergic to at home everyone would starve. That would also suck for a lot of people. It’s really just unreasonable.

            I’ve been stung by a bee I didn’t see. I’m delighted that your family has some kind of super radar to spot them. But I’ll bet a lot of people who get stung don’t see them coming.

          • maresenn

            oops. my mistake. i missed your original installment. 

            i did not suggest nor imply that “everyone leave every food… at home”. i stated that removing tree nuts and peanuts from the school setting along with limiting the locations other foods are eaten at school are reasonable steps to take to help safeguard a child’s health and life. a child’s – not an adult’s. no one is going to starve.

            as for my family, we don’t have super radar for spotting bees, but we are developing one for self-righteous cranks.

      • Don_B1

        Also people are traveling a lot more and eating out a lot more, which puts them in contact with the source of their allergies.

        It also appears that the severity of the allergies could be higher, although that might just be that those with more severe allergies are living longer because of the availability of epi pens, etc.

        When there was no medical procedure for saving a life from an allergic reaction, there was at least some acceptance, just as high childhood death rates were “accepted” before the reduction of disease from typhoid, cholera, etc. was brought about by improved public health (water filtration, sewer systems, etc.).

        Thankfully the need for acceptance of existence of allergies is changing (to the need to accept the need for precautions by everyone), but just how to get the reduced allergies that public health did for disease is not on the horizon.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.burgess2 Cathy Burgess

      I have found that sharing information can have profound effects.  My father would not be here if I had not shared my experience re: colonoscopy.  I you find a source for help or something that works for you…sharing it may or may not help others but it should certainly be done. 

    • Shag_Wevera

      When I went to school, I didn’t know anyone with nut allergies.  Weird!

  • Wahoo_wa

    I wonder if the rise in allergies has something to do with overprotective parenting.  Are kids sheltered more than in the past?  Are kids less exposed to dirt, dust, pollen and other allergens?  I don’t know but it’s just a thought.

    • Acnestes

      That theory has some currency in Japan where there is also an allergy problem.  It’s suggested there that parents are just too fastidious about keeping the kids clean and as a result their immune systems don’t get enough exposure to antigens early on which leaves them compromised later on in life.

      • Kyle

        I’ve heard about this as well.  It seems to make sense in my very limited, unscientific personal experience.  I had one friend who lived on a farm, no allergies.  Another had a mom who was a nutcase when it came to cleanliness.  He is allergic to every type of pollen and dust type allergy I can think of. 

        • adks12020

          There are actually studies that show farm kids may have fewer environmental allergies because of their early exposure to various forms of pollen, dust, etc. I can’t point you to one right this second but I know I’ve read about them in the past few years.

          • Don_B1

            It may be that the exposure is needed when still in the womb?

        • Denise Daniel

          Except I grew up on farm, and I’m allergic to ragweed, goldenrod, tree pollen, grass pollen, dust mites, dogs, cats, horses, dairy, egg, flax, coconut, almonds, hazelnuts, crab, scallops, clams, and have recently tested positive for wheat, corn, potatoes, chicken, celery and onions, at 41, but still have to verify those with an avoidance and challenge. All the environmentals were there as a child.  All the foods came up in my early and late thirties, except for the most recent.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13930625 Evan Park

        Your post seems to imply my parenting is to blame…my kid developed an ugly milk-allergy rash on his face less than a week after birth….he was allergic to his milk-based formula.  Not really much time there to keep him fastidiously clean and expose him to antigens. 

        • Acnestes

          Easy there.  No one said that the cleanliness thing is the the only factor involved.  Some allergies are certainly independent of it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13930625 Evan Park

             Thanks for clarifying.  It’s upsetting when people claim food allergies are either all in the head, or the result of the parents doing something wrong.

          • Acnestes

            No, nothing of the kind, particularly in the case of your child where an an allergy appeared so quickly.  It’s really just the luck of the genetic /environmental draw.

        • Don_B1

          Cleanliness or not is certainly NOT the cause of all allergies; even farm-raised children have allergies, just, in some studies, fewer.

        • KLA108

          Not to judge…as a mother I realize nursing can have its challenges, even at times be an impossibility.  However, that is a way to introduce physical resilience. 
          Cows milk almost always contains genetically engineered proteins & hormones which are just not recognized by our organic systems, especially one of a new born baby with a digestive system working to assimilate on its own.  Even organic cows milk will have the DNA of many different cows resulting in a sort of genetic mutation which is also unrecognizable to our bodies functionality.  The reasons for the excessive rise in food allergies and intollerances in our children (as well as adults) is in our food sourcing.  We have to consider ourselves more, not accept the level of sickness in this country and seriously look at this issue. 

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      Consider the Bacteriaphobia being promoted by cleanser manufactures’
      marketing campaigns. AntiB this and AntiB that… Just pick up the darn
      MNM you just dropped on the floor and eat it! … what kind of effects
      of living in ‘super clean’ but ‘chemically toxic’ homes having on kids?

      Also… interestingly I saw a network news report that indicated having dogs in the house with infants reduced illness. Kids raised on farms were even healthier.

    • samuelpepys

      I lived in England as child, and have lived there since, now and then.  No one in my schools had allergies, though there was one girl with asthma (amazing there weren’t more, as people were still heating their homes with coal fires!).  No one I know there now has allergies, or kids with allergies.  The biggest difference I saw and can still see across 50 years of change (I’ve read articles about this by medical researchers too) is that people there weren’t and aren’t so afraid of germs, or such hyper housekeepers.  I remember moving back to the US at 12 and being shocked by what looked even to my childhood eyes like phobic behavior.  Apparently our immune systems need the millions of tiny shocks that a greater tolerance for what my fellow Americans call “dirt” gives us and our kids access to.  I’m sympathetic to allergy suffering (my own, inherited, to cats has sent me to the hospital on occasion, though it’s getting milder in middle age).  But I think environment is very important, and we can as a society calm down about germs: others survive with much lower allergy rates and indeed much better health generally than Americans.

    • KLCS

      Recently, “over cleanliness” of homes has been theorized as a possible contributing factor to the rise in allergies.  But, not sure if it is the lack of exposure to “germs” which strengthens our immune system or the chemicals used to clean homes.  Also, Vitamin D deficiency has also been touted as a contributor.  Exposure to sun is our best source of Vitamin D, but children and adults spend twice as much time indoors than 40+ years ago.  The U.S. Vitamin D deficiency is almost epidemic.

  • Benjamin Quigley

    “There is no agreement on why or how to treat them.”

    The most heartless thing I’ve ever heard!

    • KLA108

      I believe there should be more importance and focus placed on preventing.  Our medical community only has so much to work with.  I think our food sourcing is the the place to start.  Unfortunately, there is an incredible amount of profit at stake for those at the head of that sourcing….top of the food industry, top of the pharmaceutical industry & our government lobbyist & legislators.  Those are the heartless ones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emily.h.lacroix Emily Harvey Lacroix

    Is there a difference in the rates of food allergies in different countries? Is the food allergy problem as prevalent in Europe, or South America, for instance?

    • KLA108

       There is not anywhere near the amount of issues with food related intolerances and allergies existing in other countries.  I believe this to be because of the fact that all 23 European countries, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Austrailia said no to the use of GMO’s twenty plus years ago.  We however have been using GMO’s in the majority of this countries food supply for those twenty plus years.  Side bar…this country also has the highest rate of cancer than any other country in the world.  We are what we eat.  Genetically modified food is unfortunately what we eat most of. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002266341422 Marilyn Francis

    I am wondering if breast-fed children show fewer and/or less severe food allergies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.burgess2 Cathy Burgess

    If there are none currently, I would suggest clinical studies of people my age (almost 60) who started life with allergies that have steadily exacerbated over the years.  I am now very limited in what I can eat and come in contact with (wool, latex, pollens, animals, many foods including all those with gluten).  My brother had such severe allergies that he had shots as a child as well as nasal drops and he now has rheumatoid arthritis which I strongly fee is related.  Perhaps by studying where allergic children are in their older ages will help those that are experiencing them in early childhood. Preservation of quality of life in later years should be paramount…I wish I had known years ago what I know now.  Thank you for allowing me to comment.

  • http://twitter.com/smprezbo Stan Przybylinski

    My son showed no sign of food allergies until about the age of 14-15. Does puberty affect the emergence of symptoms?

  • Margo Parris

    Can you talk about the possible link between allergies and GMOs entering our food supply?

  • bs0607

    I hope that at least half of this program will discuss the influence of hypochondria.  Of course there were always a few people more allergic to things than others, but when the evidence is collected, I predict that the explosion of food allergy claims above historic baseline levels will be attributable to psychological factors more than tangible reality.  My guess is influenced by members of my own extended family that are healthy but obsessed with ailments they do not appear to have.

    Also, I would be more confident in these guests if these experts here would have a better grasp of the difference between a hypothesis and a theory.  “Only a theory” is the language of right wing nuts who have contempt for the fact of evolution.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002266341422 Marilyn Francis

       There is nothing hypochondriacal about anaphylactic shock.

    • maresenn

      Stick an epipen into the thigh of your 18 month old boy, sit with him in an ambulance, and then talk to me about hypochondria. You, bs0607, are the one who sounds like a nut.

    • bs0607

      As I mentioned, about half of the program should be about hypochondria as a significant explanation for the explosion above historic baseline of the food allergy claims.  The other half should deal with the genuine allergies that always afflicted a tiny fraction of the population.

      Evidence matters to me.  An increase of epinephrine doses does not measure the actual occurrence of anaphylactic shock.  I want to know about the studies that show how much of this phenomenon is phobia and how much is real. I predict that data will show the real portion is about the same as 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago, and the increase above baseline is related to bad guesses. Data to demonstrate this may not yet exist or it is being ignored in this program, but treating phobia requires a different approach than treating allergies.

      For all of you out that that have experienced legitimate anaphylactic shock, I have already referred to you as among that small fraction of the population that always had some susceptibility to allergies.  Your anecdote about your emergency room experience does not change the need to understand how many of the new millions of allergy claims are genuine and how many are not.  I stand by my prediction which can be shown by real scientific data:  I expect that the data would show a very large portion of the increase is not real.  If yours is real, I am sorry you have this rare problem, but that does not prove or disprrve anything.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.a.pucci Cynthia Atwood Pucci

        i believe that you also have to look at (or perhaps you are implying correctly) hypochondria among parents, including overprotective behaviors that allow the child to become frightened. it creates a vicious cycle much like when a child is learning to swim and a parent is lurking over the edge of the pool to see if the child is drowning

        • bs0607

          Yes, Cynthia, that was my implication. One category of the hypochondria I am suggesting may explain many of the allergy claims is the parents’ fears of ailments that may not be occurring in their children.  

          And of course there are the adults own complaints as well.I live in Austin, and have a lot of social interaction with new-age hippies and their younger generations x and y counterparts.  I cannot fathom why these mostly healthier than average people love to rave on and on at parties about all the diseases they do not have and all the non-western non-scientific remedies for the health problems they don’t have.  Of course, a favorite topic is all of their food allergies. Amazing how such a huge proportion of them have discovered their bewildering array of allergies, and at a party of dull-normal accountants across town none of them have any of them.

      • demosthenes725

        The problem with your untested hypothesis is that it creates a great deal of risk for those in the food allergy and anaphylaxis community. There are those, because they do not have lived experience with allergies, are all too eager to find an excuse to not follow classroom rules because they find them inconvenient. Please remember that you, too, only have anecdotal evidence to offer (your ex girlfriend), and unfortunately, there is a great deal that happens with our bodies that cannot be observed by another person. It is just as easy to tell someone with a stomach ache that they are imagining it, though we know that “invisible” stomach pain can be a symptom of potentially life-threatening medical conditions. 

        I agree that time and money needs to be spent on food allergy research, and as I said in a comment above, the medical community really needs to get on the same page about allergies. And you are entitled to your hypotheses, but please keep in mind that I could also develop a hypothesis that seat belts really are a danger based on a story told to me by my grandfather about not being able to exit a burning car because of a jammed seatbelt. But it would be irresponsible of me to tell parents not to buckle in their children because of it. 
        A food allergy diagnosis ensured that a patient has access to iepinpehrine should they need it. And we know that most food allergy deaths result from lack of access or delayed access to epinpehrine. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13930625 Evan Park

      I have photographic evidence of my kid’s reactions to food allergies, taken during testing at his allergist’s office.  Also school teachers have witnessed for themselves what happens when food allergens so much as touch my kid’s skin.  Food allergies are very real and nothing unsettles parents more than when people claim that it’s all in the parents’ head.

    • AEPaul

      I get your point bs0607 given that it seems hypochondria seems to affect individuals with a lot of different “diseases,” but the body itself can’t be a hypochondriac, and babies can’t be either.  I think what you will ACTUALLY find in 100 years is that we did something to our food supply as a world society that didn’t agree with our bodies.
      I wish you could see proof since more people who understand makes for a more tolerant society, but parents of food-allergic children spend their lives protecting their children from the offending food products so you WON’T see a reaction.  They’re a horrible experience.
      BTW, anaphylactic deaths are rising dramatically.  Can’t blame that on hypochondria either.  And since Dr’s don’t have specific coding for anaphylaxis, this isn’t just an easy check box (in fact, reality goes the other way and there’s ample evidence to believe that anaphylactic-based deaths are much higher than reported).
      Peace to you.  Please just keep an open mind.

  • JanaHod

    Is there any evidence to suggest food allergies are more prevalent in certain regions of the US?

    We recently relocated from New England to the rural south.  My kids’ schools up north had “Nut Free” policies – that is to say nobody – staff or students were permitted to bring nut products to school for snacks or lunch.  This policy extended to after school programs and summer camps.
    Here in the south, haven’t heard anything about food allergies from the schools or anecdotally from families we’ve met here.

  • Jasoturner
  • JohnH0802

    What role does Genetically modified food, and the amount of supplements put in feed play a role in the rapid rise of this problem.

  • Katrina Ávila Munichiello

    I think the Auvi-Q has been one of the greatest advances for our family on the allergy front. He’s 8 and being able to carry his epinephrine in a pocket, rather than in a pack on his back has been significant for his quality of life. We’re also finding that adults we know with allergies are finally carrying epinephrine because it’s more comfortable. Between that and Massachusetts’ new regulations for restaurants, life is getting much easier.

  • JohnH0802

    What role does Genetically Modified Food and/or the amount of antibiotics and other things put in animal feed play in this growing problem?

  • Bonnie Ettinger

    I was diagnosed with Celiac disease 14 years ago. My daughters (39 and 35) have trouble with dairy and maybe gluten. They have not been diagnosed with any particular syndrome or disease. My granddaughter however has a severe peanut allergy and did have dairy intolerance but that seems to be abating. Hearing the story of the child that died after ingesting peanut oil scares me  – This show has prompted me to recommend this show online for our daughter and her ex husband to increase their vigilance.  I’ve been so confused..wondering where we got this. We have German heritage – my dad was so skinny I figured he might be a celiac but he would never give up bread and wouldn’t be tested. he lived to be 92 but I think he could have been much healthier.
    So obviously the autoimmune problems run in our family genes.  Do you think there will ever be an antidote..a Beano for Gluten or for peanuts?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1298986837 Jane Foley Sherwood

      There is the DPP-IV enzyme which digests only gluten and casein (milk protein).  It is found in products such as Enzymedica’s GlutenEase.  It is not recommended for celiac patients or as a replacement for a gf diet, although possibly would be helpful for avoiding minute amounts of  cross contamination?

      Mindlinx is one probiotic that has been shown in a clinical study to digest gluten and casein proteins as well.

  • Cabanator

    I’m wondering if your guests could comment on allergy dogs. A couple of years ago I read an article about a young girl who was so allergic to peanuts that she had a peanut-sniffing dog who would sniff out a room before she entered in order to be sure it was free of peanut residue. Are allergy dogs becoming more common? I only heard about it in that one article. 

  • mayyya

    what is the treatment for shellfish allergies which manifest as systemic reaction rather than a respiratory reaction?

  • http://twitter.com/litchik Not Her

    Two thoughts:  First causes of the rise are likely complex.  So far some potential causes have been identified but no evidence suggests that there is one and only one cause.

    Second, any parent whose child does not have an allergy should be thankful and willing to work with schools on accommodating the children who have to live them. As a corollary, when we have a party and invite someone with celiac, or an allergy or diabetes, we make certain our menu is friendly to them. At my children’s birthday parties we have had an egg free cake (vegan and delicious.)  Why would we invite someone in – whether to a home – and then make them feel excluded or even worse, unsafe? Seems ridiculous to me. When you move the argument to school it becomes simple.  Children have a right to an education in a safe place.  I would label any adult who fights this a bully.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/lizann82 Liz Annino

    what about adults with food allergies? the conversation about food allergies always surrounds kids, but i was diagnosed with a food allergy at age 28 after a lifetime of eating my current allergen (corn). we have the same problems and such, but we have to deal with it ourselves. 

    it’s so frustrating when looking up info on allergies and all i find is stuff geared to parents and kids… an adult dealing with an allergy in a workplace is very different than a kid in a school. my allergy extends to the smell of popcorn, i can’t even walk into a movie theater lobby w/o going into anaphylaxis in under 2 minutes! how do i tell my co-workers that they can’t have popcorn anymore b/c it can kill me? what if i rent an apartment? how can i tell my neighbors the same thing? it’s wicked frustrating!

    • adks12020

      I hear you.  I developed a shellfish allergy in my late 20s.  My first reaction was on a second date at the age of 27.  I developed hives, my throat began closing up, and the girl I was with (and luckily still am 3.5 years later) had to take me to the hospital.

      I loved shellfish my whole life and suddenly I have to totally avoid it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizann82 Liz Annino

        luckily i was at home when i had my reactions but it still sucked. 

        i loved corn my whole life and now it’s off limits. it’s really hard to avoid corn here in the US as it’s in everything… benadryl is my friend.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       I’m afraid you will find that most people will not be sensitive to your problems – they are inconvenienced.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizann82 Liz Annino

        that’s my point. it’s really annoying especially when you ask them and they do it anyway just to spite you. thanks for trying to kill me! so i know to avoid certain areas at certain times because i know that’s when and where the popcorn’s going to be popped and i don’t need a reaction at work.

    • Helen Griffith

      I, too was recently diagnosed with a huge list of food allergies.  It has grown from seafood as a child, to tree and peanuts, to latex, and now to sesame and yeast!  It is incredible that everything is geared towards children as if adults don’t suffer.  I am a business traveler and am just trying to figure out how to navigate the large scale (2600) sit down dinner… no banquet service is going to deal with that… very frustrating!

  • Kristen Wixted

    Our school system (Northborough, MA) has a NO FOOD policy in the classrooms, and NO SHARING at lunch and snack time.  At first in our elementary school I thought it was a shame because of holiday parties and such. BUT. It is SO MUCH HEALTHIER for all the kids not to have cupcakes at everyone’s birthday and candy at holidays…I am a huge fan of this policy. Everyone has to be more creative if they are passing things out in the classroom for some kind of celebration. 
    I have 3 kids, none of them have allergies. Still a fan of this policy.

  • gemli

    Are you ever going to talk about current research into the causes and possibly desensitization of food allergies??????

    • PunkiePixie

      they talked about the possible causes of allergies at the top of the hour on the live broadcast. they said that there’s little research but there are interesting ideas though.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    I’m coming in late and I know that this is about food allergies but my family suffers from man made fragrance sensitivities. This has disabled my 20 year old daughter with severe migraines for the last 6 years. This is an invisible “disease” since she isn’t dropping dead from exposure.

    While we all need to be aware of food allergies and careful around those with them, we also need to be aware and considerate of people with other medical conditions that can be aggravated by something we choose to do.

  • JohnH0802

    Did they discuss GMOs and all of the feed supplements used today, or how many things are added into our mostly processed food as a role in this issue?

  • arydberg
    • 1Brett1

      This might make sense if the person has an allergy/sensitivity to gluten. Otherwise, it’s just another unsubstantiated claim like dairy products cause asthma, asthma is a myth, etc. I have had life-long asthma. I gave up dairy for two years: no difference in my asthma. I gave up gluten for a year: no improvement in my asthma; in fact, my asthma got worse during that year as the pollen was exceptionally bad that year.

  • kilcoyne

    Let’s expand our immense sensitivity to the psychological needs of kids with food allergies to diabetic kids. As a diabetic since age 8, I too had food restrictions that made me an outsider at birthday parties, cupcake sales, cafeteria meals, HALLOWEEN, Easter and other food events. There’s no school rules preventing kids from eating diabetics’ “forbidden” foods, while the diabetics are sent to parties with carrot sticks. Let’s spread the sensitivity around.

  • Kyle

    harrison bergeron

  • Trond33

    There was just an interesting article out the other day about a study that found foreign born children who move to the US have a drastically lower percentage of allergies.  Points right to the fact that it is environmental in the US.  All that processed food that is touted as healthy.  The negative impacts of big food corporations in the US starts with allergies in kids and ends with all the medical issues associated with an overweight adult population.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/russell.ludwick Russell Ludwick

    I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the allergies are linked to gmo’s, overuse of pesticides and pumping farm animals full of hormones and antibiotics.  Our bodies are telling us this stuff is toxic

  • gregghr

    You have to wonder the impact of feeding infants formula instead of their mother’s breast milk.  The infant’s whole immune system is based on his mother’s and is acquired through her milk. Our society is not one where the process of breast feeding is made simple and acceptable; mothers expressing milk at work and having to carry it home, etc., etc.  So, is it conceivable that all of these food allergies can point to the increased incidence and use (for convenience sake) of infant formula vs. mother’s milk?  I had to miss the last half of this segment on the broadcast but assume it never came up as a causal agent to the increased incidence of food allergies, but also noticed that none of the comments below addressed this question.

    • Anna Jackson

      I am a 100% breastfeeding, natural child birthing, organic homemade baby food making mama with a peanut allergic daughter. I breastfed her for 15 months and was highly selective about all the foods she ate. At 13 months I discovered her peanut allergy when I gave her a minute taste and she had an instant full body reaction. I can’t speak to any large scale studies on this, but for us breastfeeding did not prevent her allergies.

      • Don_B1

        My wife’s niece had a similar experience with her first-born, but the allergies showed up within eight months. She is an incredibly disciplined mother, following dietary guidelines and what some might consider over-cleanliness, but her son is affected, still, at nine, with many more allergies than even a celiac. He eats chicken, rice-flour and some vegetables but no bean-types including peas, etc.

    • 1Brett1

      Food allergies have skyrocketed since the ’50s and ’60s, yet breast-feeding infants in the ’50s and ’60s was more the exception than the rule. Doctors even encouraged women not to breast-feed and use formula. That was also an age when the increased convenience of using formula was new and seen as a plus. This was also a time when the early plastic bottles were coming into use, as well as disposable diapers. 

      That said, there certainly have been claims that breast-feeding infants protects them against allergies and certain illnesses. 

      It is a good question, however, and would hopefully be part of any reasonable discussion of why children develop food allergies.

      Is there causation? Correlation? Or is there coincidence?

      As Anna describes below, I have known many women who breast-fed for an extended time, and their children turned out to have food allergies.  

      • hm2013

        Like Anna, I also breastfed and eat organic. And tried not to use anti-bacterial products, etc. etc. Yet my son is allergic to everything, practically.  I have a friend with fraternal twins. One has a couple of major allergies and one has none. If that doesn’t speak to the fact that it is more than likely genetic, rather than environmental, I don’t know what is.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I grew up in the 70′s.  It seemed like there was no such thing as autism or nut allergies.  PBJ was a staple all through my primary education, and I don’t remember anyone ever having a reaction.

    Does anything about this world ever change for the better anymore?

    • Jean Powers

       There was autism in the 70s, it was just treated out of sight in barbaric conditions.

  • arydberg

    Du Pont makes the teflon used in frying pans.    They freely admit that use of these pans will kill pet birds.    My question is how much do we know about the effects of toxins on a developing fetus.  What happens when a fetus the same size as a bird is exposed to fumes from a teflon frying pan.    

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000739397405 Goncomer Lovetalker

    I laughed at the comment someone made regarding the increased expense of all these precautions.  Some parent out there didn’t want to pay for someone else’s child.  As a childless taxpayer, I’m already paying more for your kid’s school than you are; are you really complaining about this?

  • demosthenes725

    Part of the problem is that there are so many different ideas among doctors about what qualifies as an “allergy.” For example, my 5 year old is severely peanut and tree nut allergic. We know this because of her history of reactions, but it was also confirmed with IgE antibody testing. We had one doctor that did IgG testing, and those results showed that she was allergic to Wheat, Yeast, Rye, Spelt, Corn, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Tomatoes, and Garlic. We were skeptical, but eliminated all those foods for quite sometime with no results. Other doctors have told us that no one REALLY knows what IgG antibodies mean at this point. 

    It is particularly difficult when you are trying to control the allergies of a young child; often there are a variety of symptoms before there is full-blown anaphylaxis. My daughter had severe eczema from the time she was an infant and would often get “mystery hives,” and we went through many different doctors before anyone would listen to us that there was a problem. 
    AMEN on the hypothesis v. Theory thing. I have heard doctors talk about the hygiene hypothesis as if it were a theory. 
    Also, I am pretty sure that there was a report out of U of Michigan not too long ago that actually said that anaphyalxis deaths are down. But this is due to the availability of Epinephrine, not because there are less allergies. That said, It seems that I am hearing about another food allergy death every week. =( Bottom line, we need to focus on research, stock epinephrine, and help make sure that low-income families have access to what can be an expensive drug. These studies show that anaphylaxis deaths are preventable; our schools, ambulances, first responders, and food allergy parents need to stock epinpephrine. 

  • thinkpost

    It might be worthwhile exploring the pattern of use of- antibiotics and other medication
    - baby formula
    - pesticides
    - herbicides
    - GMOs
    - vaccinations containing allergens such as milk, egg, wheat, or other additives
    My gut – pun intended – instincts are pointing to the root cause of food allergies as being one or a combination of the above. We need to start collecting data about nut-allergic infants, children, their mothers and grandmothers.- Did the nut allergic child’s mother or her mother use antibiotics or other medication during the pregnancy?- Even if a nut-allergic child was breastfed this generation, how early was the child’s parents weaned by their respective mothers?- Did some of the vaccines given in the first year contain an allergen that the child was allergic to?
    - Was the child predominantly breastfed but given formula within the first few months? Did the child react when given formula?
    - When an infant is showing symptoms of allergy such as eczema, were they still injected with a vaccine containing allergens such as milk, egg, or wheat?

    We need to start collecting tons of data to get to the bottom of this.

  • Michele

     I had peanuts and peanut butter as a young child before the now recommended age of 3. I developed a severe peanut allergy as a young adult.  So the theory of “inoculating” children as a solution did not work for me!  I did have other allergies as a child: environmental, food and medication related – so it could be an outgrowth of that.  But kids with allergies grow-up to be adults with allergies. It’s tiresome and frustrating.  Sometimes I will go to a restaurant that responsibly notes which of their recipes contain peanuts but then they offer no other options!  It seems to me that they are missing a huge opportunity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1298986837 Jane Foley Sherwood

    Robyn O’Brien’s excellent book quoted studies that show that GMO’s could be a root cause of the food allergy epidemic

    The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply– and What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristin.jansma Kristin Wietzema Jansma

    I have an adopted daughter with many allergies to foods and in environment.  I also have a biological niece with many allergies at 3 months and mom breastfeeds.  Not sure what is causing it but it is very hard to live with so many allergies.  It is so hard and when you think you are following everything perfectly they still break out.  I wish every person could walk in my shoes for one day so they could see how hard it is.

  • Earl Finnegan

    Especially with kids, visiting a allergy doctor in Richmond is an important thing to do. They can help explain what is happening and how to deal with it, as well as prescribe medicine to help in case of an attack.

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