Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sorry, no Reece’s for him, he has a peanut allergy

I was shocked this past Halloween to find that a number of children out were trick-or-treating couldn’t have Reece’s cups, Snickers, Baby Ruth’s, or any other yummy treats except the pure high-fructose corn syrup candy (eg: skittles, swedish fish). The reason: they said they have “food allergies.” However, many studies have shown far fewer people actually have food allergies than they would have you believe.
Be sure to do your research and get your child tested a few times before you restrict important foods for growth and development from your child’s diet due to food allergy fears. The most common cause for allergen-related diet restriction seems to come from a child having a skin rash and/or one positive immunoassay test, which experts say is tricky to analyze and may have false-positives for several food items. Therefore, it is important to use other lab tests, as well as “gold standard” for food allergy testing: an oral food challenge in which the suspected food is fed to the child.

A new report from the National Jewish Health physicians found that 177 different foods were being avoided by a total of 125 children in their study due to alleged food allergies. Interestingly enough, by the end of the study intervention 84-93% of avoided foods were restored to the children’s diets after completing an oral food challenge. The oral food challenge validation allowed children to eat many foods again and regain a normal and balanced diet. By restricting a child’s diet, especially from dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, and vegetables, parents risk their child becoming malnourished, spend unnecessary money on allergen-free food products, and make mealtime complicated and stressful. It is important to note that foods should definitely be restricted if children have had severe life-threatening reactions or if your doctor has confirmed that your child is allergic and should avoid a certain food product. Otherwise, have your child tested several times and have a doctor complete the oral food challenge to confirm an allergy.

Fleischer DMBock SASpears GCWilson CGMiyazawa NKGleason MCGyorkos EAMurphy JRAtkins DLeung DY. Oral Food Challenges in Children with a Diagnosis of Food Allergy. Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO; Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO. J Pediatr. 2010 Oct 27. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21030035
Written by: Kelly Strogen, MS, RD, LDN

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