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Food Allergies Part 2

I’ve been doing some more reading about allergies.  Immediately after I published my previous blog entry, a girlfriend called about a mutual friend whose 14 year old son Brent had spent the night in the ER for anaphylactic shock. Brent has a severe peanut allergy.  Although his school is a “nut-free zone” it appears that Brent was exposed to peanuts sometime in the first 10 minutes of lunchtime.  I should also note that Brent is a savvy kid who knows how to avoid peanuts and peanut by-products.  Fortunately, Brent carries an EpiPen and is well-versed in how to use it.  Still, he wound up hospitalized overnight and the experience terrified his mother.
Brent’s horrible scare made me want to read up a bit on food allergies.  I wondered how prevalent these types of allergies are and I wanted to identify allergens besides peanuts.  During my research, I stumbled across a landmark study which was completed only a few months ago.  Billed as the “largest study to ever track childhood food allergies in the U.S.,” the study came to several alarming conclusions.
First, the study showed that 8% of children under age 18 are allergic to at least one food.  This percentage doubles what was previously believed to be the number of children with food allergies ( 4%).  Even with my very poor math skills, I can figure out that this percentage equals at least 2 kids per average-sized public school classroom.  That’s pretty scary!
I also learned that, as expected, peanuts are the main culprit.  I was not surprised to see milk and shellfish allergies in the #2 and #3 slots, but I was surprised to see strawberries make the list of top food allergens.  Who knew?
The scariest thing I read was that while food allergies peak in the preschool years (between ages 3-5), teenage boys are the most likely to experience severe/life-threatening reactions to food allergies.  As you may or may not remember, I’m the mother of two boys. If you want to read more about the study I referenced, and about food allergies in general, check out…
More in a few days,


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