A new study in the journal Pediatrics has concluded that food allergies are a growing problem among our nation’s youth. The research shows that 8% of U.S. children, or about 6 million young people, are affected by food allergies. In the past, government estimates had ranged from 2% to 8%, adding to the growing body of evidence that increasingly more of our youth are suffering from food allergies. Even more striking, 40% of those with food allergies had a history of severe reactions and 30% were allergic to multiple foods. The number one food allergen is peanuts followed by milk and shellfish.
Food allergies and sensitivities may cause a wide range of adverse reactions to the skin, respiratory system, stomach, and other physiological functions of the body. “What I don’t think people comprehend is that it can be life-threatening. You can have a severe reaction and easily end up in the hospital or even worse, you can die of food allergy,” according to Dr. Greg Staffel of the Shea clinic.
The key to treatment is determining what foods cause the allergic reaction. Before you identify the culprit, consider which of the two types of food allergy your child has. Fixed food allergies are generally very apparent and may cause the swelling of lips or an itchy throat almost immediately after eating some peanuts. Blood testing, often referred to as the RAST test, is typically used to verify fixed food allergies. Cyclic food allergies are far more common and are also less understood. This allergic response is cyclical in nature, and symptoms can take up to three days appear. For example, a child allergic to milk and symptoms might appear if milk intake or frequency is increased.
Both children and adults are susceptible to food allergies, but children often have more skin reactions, such as eczema, than do adults. The good news for the young patient is that they outgrow food sensitivities over time, even those that are positive on a RAST test.
If you believe your child or yourself to be suffering from food allergy, give Dr. Greg Staffel and the professional staff at the Shea clinic a call. Identifying the problem source is the key to improving your daily living.
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