Food allergies have grown exponentially since the mid-1990’s. In speaking with Emily’s pediatrician who has been in practice for 20 years, he had no children with food allergies his first 10 years to an ever growing number of children his second 10 years. Why have food allergies exploded? Read this from a very motivated mother.Food allergies are one of several childhood epidemics that include eczema, asthma, ADHD, and autism. Emily had all but autism.Emily was allergic to peanuts. The first time Emily’s body was exposed to peanuts, her immune system created anti-bodies (IgE) against the peanut protein, similar to how your body creates anti-bodies against other viruses. The next time Emily came in contact with peanuts her body released chemicals, including histamines, to protect itself. For Emily it was a peanut butter cracker when she was about two years old. This reaction was mainly swelling of the eyes and lips and itchy eyes. Benydryl, an anti-histamine, was able to neutralize the reaction.Unfortunately, after that reaction, her body had created an extremely dangerous level of anti-bodies (IgE). Emily’s RAST score was 6+++ putting her off the scale for the peanut protein.If Emily accidentally encountered nuts, her tongue would tingle or itch; she would vomit and then feel better. But on April 13, 2006 the reaction was overwhelming and involved her respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system. She died of an anaphylactic reaction. She had an extremely difficult time breathing, confusing her, since it felt like an asthma attack and not anaphylaxis. If your child has asthma and food allergies please read When Anaphylaxis Looks Like Asthma. The paramedic report showed that her body was trying to vomit the offending protein. And her heart had stopped and the paramedics and emergency room personnel tried extraordinary means to get her heart to pump again without success.Additional information is available on How Allergies Work.
Some Common Food Allergens
A child could be allergic to any food, but there are eight common allergens that account for 90% of all reactions in children:
- tree nuts (such as walnuts and cashews)
- shellfish (such as shrimp)
Allergies to corn, latex, gelatin, sesame seeds (thanks David) and other proteins are on the rise.
Through my research I have found many great resources for defining and describing food allergies.
AANMA Anaphylaxis Guide – 2008
National Institute of Health Food Allergy Document – Jul 2007
Health Hints Children with Food Allergies
Anaphylaxis – Mayo Clinic