Monday, December 30th, 2013
Women who regularly eat tree nuts or peanuts during pregnancy may be less likely to give birth to babies who later develop nut allergies, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found. More from CNN.com:
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to demonstrate that a mother who eats nuts during pregnancy may help build up a baby’s tolerance to them after birth, its lead author, Dr. Michael Young, told CNN.
The effect seemed to be strongest in women who ate the most peanuts or tree nuts — five or more servings per week, according to the study, which controlled for factors such as family history of nut allergies and other dietary practices.
Peanut and tree nut allergies tend to overlap, according to the researchers.
Earlier studies indicated that nut consumption during pregnancy either didn’t have any effect or actually raised the risk of allergies in children.
However, the authors of the latest study say those studies were based on less reliable data and conflict with more recent research suggesting that early exposure to nuts can reduce the risk of developing allergies to them.
There is currently no formally recognized medical guidance for nut consumption during pregnancy or infancy.
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Image: Pregnant woman eating nuts, via Shutterstock
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Monday, December 9th, 2013
A new method of treating–and possibly even curing–severe peanut allergies is being developed and tested by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital. More from Boston.com:
In a small study involving 13 children at high risk for having severe allergic reactions to peanuts, Boston Children’s Hospital researchers first administered an injectable asthma drug every few weeks for 12 weeks, before having the children eat peanuts, in order to dampen their immune system’s response to peanut protein. The children continued to receive the drug—called omalizumab—for another 8 weeks as they gradually ate an increasing number of peanuts.
Twelve of the children were eventually able to eat the equivalent of 10 peanuts a day even after they went off the drug, according to the findings published in the December issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Most did, however, experience allergic reactions during the first few weeks before their immune systems became desensitized to the peanut protein. Five children had moderate allergic reactions such as wheezing, nausea, and shortness of breath, and two children had more severe reactions like a full-blown asthma attack. One child dropped out of the study after experiencing nausea and vomiting from eating peanuts, which didn’t abate for several weeks.
(None of the children had side effects from omalizumab, which in rare cases can cause life-threatening allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.)
“An important goal is to prevent life-threatening allergic reactions in those who eat peanuts accidentally,” said study leader Dr. Lynda Schneider, director of the allergy program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “We’re cautiously hopeful that some will be able to include peanuts in their diet every day, but we’re not ready to call this a cure.”
Image: Peanuts, via Shutterstock
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Friday, August 30th, 2013
Several companies now offer temporary tattoos that children can wear on their arms to alert teachers, cafeteria staff, and other adults that the kids suffer from severe allergies. Parents report that these tattoos give them a little peace of mind, but critics worry that they set kids up to be bullied. More from Yahoo! Shine:
“Right now there’s a huge awareness, whether because of going back to school or because of the recent incident in California,” SafetyTat founder and mother of three Michele Welsh told Yahoo! Shine. Welsh was referring to the recent tragic death of a 13-year-old girl with a peanut allergy at a Sacramento summer camp. “Unfortunately it sometimes takes something like that for people to say, ‘Wow, it really can happen.’”
Welsh created her 5-year-old company—offering products that include temporary tattoos and long-lasting, write-on skin stickers—after using a ballpoint pen to nervously scrawl her cell phone number on her kids’ arms at a crowded amusement park, in case they got separated, and realizing it was maybe not the best way to go about it.
The moment made her think of other dangers lurking for kids, and how having an actual warning label on the body could be useful to other parents, too—like her sister-in-law, who is mom to a boy with a fatal peanut allergy. “He had spent so much time in the hospital as a toddler, that his mom had begun limiting his time outside the home because she was so fearful,” Welsh said. When she created the tattoos and he wore one to a school trip, the response was immediate, alerting a food server who double checked the ingredient of his salad dressing only to discover it contained peanut oil. “His mom told me, ‘It’s almost like I’m there with him, reminding people,’” she added.
But Yahoo! Shine reports that the tattoos do have critics:
A recent Slate article on the phenomenon of children wearing warning labels raised the issue of bullying, questioning whether the added attention would make them targets of childhood cruelty. It was a concern echoed by American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology spokesperson, allergist Kevin McGrath. “A lot of kids do get bullied at school about their food allergies, so there is some concern about whether this might give more ammunition to kids,” McGrath told Yahoo! Shine.
Image: SafetyTat tattoo, via Yahoo! Shine
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Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Food allergies in children seem to be getting more common, with foods like eggs and peanut butter as top culprits. New recommendations from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology urge parents to introduce highly allergenic foods, including fish, eggs, and nuts, to babies as young as ages 4 and 6 months, saying that early exposure may lower the risk of the allergy. More from the Wall Street Journal:
The recommendations are a U-turn from 2000, when the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines that children should put off having milk until age 1, eggs until 2 and peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts and fish until 3. In 2008, the AAP revised its guidelines, citing little evidence that such delays prevent the development of food allergies, but it didn’t say when and how to introduce such foods.
Food allergies affect an estimated 5% of children under the age of 5 in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The prevalence of a food allergy for children under 18 increased by 18% from 1997 to 2007.
“There’s been more studies that find that if you introduce them early it may actually prevent food allergy,” said David Fleischer, co-author of the article and a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver. “We need to get the message out now to pediatricians, primary-care physicians and specialists that these allergenic foods can be introduced early.”
Dr. Fleischer said more study results are needed to conclusively determine whether early introduction will in fact lead to lower food-allergy rates and whether they should be recommended as a practice.
Image: Peanuts, via Shutterstock
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Friday, July 20th, 2012
A new treatment is emerging for the treatment–even reversal–of childhood food allergies; giving kids small amounts of problem foods to train their immune systems to accept that the foods are not dangerous. The Associated Press reports on the latest example of this approach, which has been shown to reverse egg allergies in children:
In the best test of this yet, about a dozen kids were able to overcome allergies to eggs, one of the most ubiquitous foods, lurking in everything from pasta and veggie burgers to mayonnaise and even marshmallows. Some of the same doctors used a similar approach on several kids with peanut allergies a few years ago.
Don’t try this yourself, though. It takes special products, a year or more and close supervision because severe reactions remain a risk, say doctors involved in the study, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
‘‘This experimental therapy can safely be done only by properly trained physicians,’’ says a statement from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the federal agency that sponsored the study.
It didn’t work for everyone, and some dropped out of the study because of allergic reactions. But the results ‘‘really do show there is promise for future treatment’’ and should be tested now in a wider group of kids, said the study’s leader, Dr. A. Wesley Burks, pediatrics chief at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
More than 2 percent of young children have egg allergies, suffering wheezing and tight throats or even life-threatening reactions if they eat any egg, Burks said. Many will outgrow this by age 4 or 5, and more will by the time they are teens, but 10 to 20 percent never do.
Image: Eggs, via Shutterstock.
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