In a study to be presented at the ongoing American Thoracic Conference (ATS) 2015, it was determined that many children suffering from asthma have a sensitivity to peanuts but their families are unaware.
“Many of the respiratory symptoms of peanut allergy can mirror those of an asthma attack, and vice versa. Examples of those symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing,” said study lead author Robert Cohn, MD, MBA. “This study aimed to evaluate the proportion of asthmatic children who also demonstrated a sensitivity to peanuts.”
The study researched the charts of 1517 children diagnosed with asthma at Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. Of the charts reviewed, 665 (43.8%) had IgE testing for peanuts, and of this group 148 (22.3%) had positive results.
Of the children with positive IgE tests, more than half (53%) of the children and their families did not suspect there was any sensitivity to peanut.
A study of the accidental exposure of children with physician-confirmed peanut allergy was published in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Allergy earlier this month.
The parents of 1941 children were recruited from Canadian allergy clinics and allergy advocacy organizations over a ten year period beginning in 2004, who completed questionnaires regarding the accidental exposure to peanuts of their children over the preceding year and the results were correlated.
One question we often field generally reads something like this:
This product has a statement that says “Contains: Wheat” but doesn’t mention anything about the peanut oil listed as an ingredient! If I wasn’t such a careful label reader I would have missed it entirely! Should I report them?
Irate in Indiana
To answer questions like Irate’s, we need to take a close look at a clause in Section 203 of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 – often referred to as FALCPA, the law that mandates how food products must be labeled with regard to allergens.
Here’s the clause in question (with the emphasis ours):
The term `major food allergen’ means any of the following:
(1) Milk, egg, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, or cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, or shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.
(2) A food ingredient that contains protein derived from a food specified in paragraph (1), except the following:
(A) Any highly refined oil derived from a food specified in paragraph (1) and any ingredient derived from such highly refined oil.
(B) A food ingredient that is exempt under paragraph (6) or (7) of section 403(w).”.
So highly refined oils are exempt from the allergen labeling regulations mandated by FALCPA.
Well, we know the Dowager Countess of Grantham (our favorite character from Downton Abbey) is highly refined, but what exactly are highly refined oils and why are they treated differently from the foods from which they are derived?
In a nutshell, highly refined oils are edible oils “resulting from a process that involves de-gumming, neutralizing, bleaching, and deodorizing the oils extracted from plant-based starting materials such as soybeans and peanuts.”
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In positive news, DBV Technologies, a French firm developing skin patch therapies for various allergens, issued a press release announcing their Viaskin® Peanut patch has received “Breakthrough Therapy” (BT) designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
DBV describes Viaskin as “an electrostatic patch, based on Epicutaneous Immunotherapy, or EPIT®, which administers an allergen directly onto the superficial layers of the skin to activate the immune system by specifically targeting antigen-presenting cells without allowing passage of the antigen into the bloodstream.”
According to a study published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, allergies to specific foods can be passed via blood transfusions, though such cases are extremely rare.
The research was initiated after an eight year old Canadian boy with no history of food allergies suddenly experienced an anaphylactic reaction to salmon after receiving a transfusion of platelets as part of ongoing chemotherapy treatment. Four days later he had a reaction to peanuts.
Investigators traced the source of the platelets and found that a single donor had multiple severe food allergies including fish and peanuts.
Though extremely rare, researchers found that food allergies can be passed through an antibody that reacts against allergens, immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is found in blood platelets.
Food challenge: where the patient consumes a food they may be allergic to while the medical staff hovers nearby, ready to inject epinephrine if the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. Low-tech, dangerous, and the only reliable way to test how severely someone may react to an allergen. Until now.
A blood test resulting from a study led by researchers from The Mindich Child Health and Development Institute and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute promises to predict which people will have severe allergic reactions to specific foods. The study was published yesterday in The Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology accompanied by a press release by Mount Sinai.
Current testing relies on skin pricks and blood tests that detect proteins called allergen-specific IgE produced by the immune system, though these cannot accurately predict the severity of reactions. The study reports that measuring another immune system component, the basophil, can accurately predict how a person will react to specific allergens. The basophil activation test (BAT) requires only a small amount of blood and provides quick results.
“While providing crucial information about their potential for a severe allergic reaction to a food, having blood drawn for BAT testing is a much more comfortable procedure than food challenges.” says first author Ying Song, MD. “Although food challenges are widely practiced, they carry the risk of severe allergic reactions, and we believe BAT testing will provide accurate information in a safer manner.”
Note that BAT testing is currently only approved for research study.
There’s a good reason why we refer to Erin Brockovich as “The Robyn O’Brien of Environmental Issues”.
Ms O’Brien – author, TED speaker, founder of AllergyKids Foundation, and leading advocate for clean, safe, affordable food – hits yet another ball out of the park with her editorial on the recent LEAP (Learning Early about Peanut Allergy) Study. In it, she excoriates the media, study’s authors, and quoted physicians for a lack of disclosure regarding the funding and selection of subjects for the study.
Here’s a sample from the article:
That’s like conducting a diabetes study on sugar and throwing out the diabetics before you start. It skews the results to suggest a false positive when if the food had been given to the entire population, without pre-screening, the results would have been entirely different.
If you don’t know Lisa Rutter, you should. She’s the Director of Education & Community Outreach at FAACT (a wonderful food allergy advocacy) and Founder of the No Nuts Moms Group (a wonderful forum for moms of children with food allergies.) She has two boys – one with severe allergies to peanuts and tree nuts – and another child well on the way.
Yesterday, Lisa was interviewed by Michael Cohen on The Capital City Recap for WILS Radio, Lansing, to discuss the recent LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) study that’s been all over the news. It’s a must-hear for every parent, but especially you food allergy moms struggling with internalizing yet another set of conflicting guidelines.
Hear Lisa describe the circumstances all food allergy parents deal with on a daily basis as well as the monumental decision she must make regarding the early introduction of peanuts in light of LEAP.
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According to a study led by Gideon Lack of King’s College London, babies at higher risk of developing peanut allergies fed the equivalent of four heaping teaspoons of peanut butter each week beginning between 4 to 11 months old were 80% less likely to develop peanut allergies by their fifth birthday.
Lack launched his study after noticing that Israeli children had a much lower incidence of peanut allergy than Jewish children in the UK and US. Israeli parents are known to give their children “Bamba” snacks made of peanut butter and corn at a very young age.
With funding from the US National Institutes of Health, Lack’s team identified 640 babies at risk of developing peanut allergies because they already had developed an egg allergy or eczema. Half the parents were asked to give their children Bamba snacks or peanuts in some other form before their first birthday.
Allergic Living’s site features an exclusive interview with Dr Helen Brough, lead author of a British study showing an association between high levels of peanut residue in homes, genetic factors for eczema, and increased incidence of peanut allergy.
The study examined peanut residue by vacuuming the sofas in 577 UK homes with babies in the first year of life. These children were later revisited at 8 and 11 years old and tested for peanut allergy along with a mutation in their genes associated with eczema. The results showed that children with the mutation were 3 times as likely to develop peanut allergy in homes with 3 times the quantity of peanut residue found in the household dust.
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