Food allergy rate worse than thought

June 26, 2012 at 1:17 AM
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BETHESDA, Md., June 26 (UPI) -- Seventy-two percent of young children with food allergies have severe food reactions -- a much higher rate than previously thought -- U.S. researchers say.

"This study reinforces the importance of doctors, parents and other caregivers working together to be even more vigilant in managing food allergy in children," Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.

The research is part of an ongoing observational study that enrolled 512 infants ages 3 months to 15 months who, at study entry, were allergic or who were likely to be allergic to milk or eggs, based on a positive skin test and the presence of moderate-to-severe eczema, a chronic skin condition.

The investigators are carefully tracking the children to see whether their allergies resolve or if new allergies, particularly peanut allergy, develop. The study is ongoing at research hospitals in Baltimore; Denver; Durham, N.C.; Little Rock, Ark.; and New York.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found 53 percent of the children had more than one reaction, with the majority of reactions being to milk, eggs or peanuts. This translated into a rate of nearly one food-allergic reaction per child per year, the researchers said.

Approximately 11 percent of the reactions were classified as severe and included symptoms such as swelling in the throat, difficulty breathing, a sudden drop in blood pressure, dizziness or fainting, the study said.

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