Saturday, August 20, 2011

Food Allergies in Kids more common...

Childhood food allergies More Common Than Thought..Survey Shows 8% of Children Under Age 18 Are Allergic to at Least 1 Food.
The study, a detailed survey of families with at least one child younger than 18, shows that 8% of kids under age 18 are allergic to at least one food. Surveys for about 38, 000 children were completed.

Previous studies, including a government survey published in 2009, had pegged that number at around 4%.

Allergies to peanuts were the most commonly reported, affecting 2% of kids. Milk and shellfish allergies ranked second and third. Tree nuts, egg, fin fish, strawberry, wheat, and soy rounded out the top nine food triggers.

"This study shows that there's a very high, and higher than we thought, prevalence of food allergy in the U.S." says Susan Schuval, MD, pediatric allergist at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., who was not involved in the study.
Many food allergies in children are mild and fade over time. But in other cases, reactions to food can be dangerous and even deadly.

The new study offers one of the first estimates of these severe reactions in children, showing that 40% of kids with food allergies experience severe symptoms such as wheezing and anaphylaxis, which is characterized by difficulty breathing and a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Preparing Safe Meals and Snacks
Families with food allergies often have to change the way they eat and the way they shop for groceries."Finding safe options that children are willing to eat can be a challenge," says Marion Groetch, RD, a dietitian at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Families have to learn how to prepare safe meals and snacks from whole foods and also how to find allergen-free convenience items."

Reading product labels is also an important habit in attempting to avoid reactions to food allergies. The FDA requires that the 8 major dietary allergens (milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish) be fully disclosed on product and ingredient labels. But other minor ingredients may not appear on packaging so clearly. If you have questions about something your child might ingest or eat, you should call the manufacturer before you serve it to them.

"There's always a risk of hidden ingredients," says Bahna. "Labeling is not always complete, nor clear."

Preparing meals and snacks at home allows you to have greater control over the ingredients used in your child’s food. There are many cookbooks and web sites that can help you design an allergen-free diet for your child.

For special events, like birthday parties, Rhonda Lewis will call ahead of time to ask whether the cake is from a nut-free bakery. If not, she'll send an amazing dessert so her daughter "doesn't feel like she's missing something if she's eating something different."