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Food allergies among children


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  • 1. Food Allergy Dr. Martin Siu
  • 2. Food Allergies Among Children Dramatically on the Rise
    • Childhood food allergies are apparently much more common in America than previously believed.
    • A clinical study, recently published in the journal Pediatrics, found that about eight percent of children under the age of 18, almost 6 million, suffer from one or more food allergies.
  • 3. Centre for Disease Control
    • The numbers are twice as high as the latest data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2007, which showed a rate of just under four percent, or about three million kids.
  • 4. Online Interview
    • The new findings came from online interviews that included 40,000 households all over the United States.
    • Participants were recruited through random telephone calls.
    • Based on the information gathered from the survey, experts now believe that allergies among the young, including food allergies, are dramatically on the rise.
  • 5. More Problems
    • What’s more, nearly two out of every five affected children suffer from a severe food allergy.
    • For these children, accidental ingestion of an allergenic food may lead to difficulty breathing, a sharp drop in blood pressure, and even death.
  • 6. 8 Types of Food with Problems
    • The CDC estimates that eight types of foods are responsible for 90 percent of all food allergies in children.
    • They are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.
  • 7. What’s Allergy ?
    • Allergy is a condition that occurs when a person’s immune system is hypersensitive or over-reactive.
    • Ordinarily, the human immune system has the ability to distinguish between harmless substances in the environment and potentially harmful agents, such as viruses and bacteria.
  • 8. Immune Response
    • For a person with allergies, however, the immune system reacts swiftly and with great intensity to substances that are not dangerous as if they were.
    • So, when an individual who has certain allergies eats, touches or inhales an allergen (a foreign substance he or she is allergic to), the immune system mistakenly responds with an all-out counterattack.
  • 9. Causes of Allergy
    • Many experts believe that the tendency to develop allergies is primarily hereditary.
    • However, in addition to genetic traits, long-term exposure to certain health hazards in the environment, such as tobacco smoke, pesticides and other pollutants, can provoke allergic reactions.
    • So can emotional factors and other stressors.
  • 10. Food Intolerances and Allergy-1
    • People who suffer from food intolerances are not necessarily allergic to these foods.
    • The symptoms can be similar, but with intolerance the physical reactions are usually due to problems with digestion.
    • For instance, people with lactose intolerance are unable to produce enough of a digestive enzyme needed to break down milk sugar.
    • They are lactose intolerant, but the immune system is not involved in the resulting digestive distress.
  • 11. Food Intolerances and Allergy-2
    • There can be conditions, however, where food intolerances and allergies sort of overlap.
    • Celiac disease, for example, generates an abnormal immune response to foods containing gluten, like wheat and some grain products.
    • Despite of this, celiac disease is classified as a food intolerance, although it is triggered by autoimmune activity.
  • 12. Symptom Differentiation
    • Another difference between food intolerances and allergies is that the symptoms of intolerances generally intensify with age, while those of allergies get worse with exposure.
  • 13. Possible Reactions of Allergy
    • Allergies should not be taken lightly, especially when children are affected.
    • Possible reactions range from mild to severe.
    • They include swelling of lips and face, hives, itching, flushing or eczema flare.
    • The severest cases, known as anaphylaxis, are potentially life-threatening.
    • Symptoms include wheezing, trouble breathing, vomiting, persistent coughing and dangerous swelling of the airways.
  • 14. Multiple Food Allergies
    • Especially for kids with multiple food allergies, it complicates their lives and makes it really tough on these kids to avoid multiple foods to stay healthy and stay alive.
  • 15. The Most Effective Measure
    • Parents of children with serious food allergies are urged to always carry antihistamine as well as an epinephrine shot (EpiPen) with them.
    • The most effective measure people can take against allergic reactions is avoidance.
    • That means paying close attention to ingredient labels, taking precautions when eating at restaurants and bringing along one’s own food if safe alternatives are unavailable.
  • 16. Summary
    • Many children outgrow their allergies or tolerate them better as they grow older, including those against milk, eggs and wheat, while peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish often remain a lifetime threat.
    • For more information, click