Eight kinds of food account for 90 percent allergies

April 20th, 2009 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 20 (IANS) Just eight kinds of food account for 90 percent of allergies that affect schoolchildren, according to a study by scientists in the US.
Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), St. Louis, have found that the culprits are peanuts, shellfish, fish, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds), eggs, milk, soy and wheat. Symptoms of allergic reaction can range from mild to severe.

The good news is that most children allergic to milk, soy, egg, and wheat will lose their sensitivity as they grow.

Food allergies develop when the immune system misinterprets a food as harmful and develops an immune response against the food. They affect many body systems, including the skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and/or cardiovascular systems.

If a child develops allergy antibodies, called IgE, to a food protein, re-exposure to that food may be accompanied by a release of chemicals that produce the allergic symptoms.

They may include hives (a red intensely itchy rash), eczema, tingling or swelling of the lip, tongue and/or throat, difficulty in breathing, coughing, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness, according to a WUSM release.

Anaphylaxis is a combination of several of these symptoms and is a life threatening medical emergency. The only effective approach for the treatment of food allergy is dietary avoidance.

“This requires extreme dedication and attention to detail,” said Leonard Bacharie, associate professor of paediatrics at WUSM.

“Parents and caregivers of food allergic children must become experts at reading ingredient labels on all foods,” added Bacharie.

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