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.
On February 23rd at this year’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) in Houston, a study was presented regarding incidence of anaphylaxis in schools during the 2013-2014 school year, confirming the need for stock epinephrine.
Of 5683 schools that responded to the study survey, a total of 919 anaphylactic events were reported by 11% of the schools. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) is an intranasal flu vaccine in widespread use. Since the vaccine contains egg protein, it has been contraindicated for use by children with egg allergy, and North American guidelines also recommend against its use in asthmatic children.
In a British study funded by the Department of Health UK and published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), 433 doses of LAIV were administered to 282 children with egg allergy, 41% of which had experienced prior anaphylaxis to egg and 67% had a physician’s diagnosis of asthma or recurring wheeze with 51% receiving regular preventer therapy.
A study by researchers of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), may shed light on why women suffer more frequent and more severe instances of anaphylaxis than men.
Anaphylaxis – a life threatening allergic reaction triggered by foods, medication, and animal stings and bites – occurs when immune cells release enzymes that cause tissues to swell and blood vessels to widen. Clinical studies have shown that women experience anaphylaxis more often than men, though the mechanism for this has not been clearly understood.
NIAID researchers found that female mice experienced more severe and longer lasting anaphylactic reactions than males. They discovered that Estradiol – a type of estrogen – enhances the effect of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), an enzyme that causes a number of symptoms of anaphylaxis.
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.
Children suffering food-induced anaphylaxis (FIA) were less than half as likely to need hospitalization if they received epinephrine prior to visiting the hospital emergency department. This was the finding of a study published in September in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
The study, conducted at Hasbro Children’s Hospital/Rhode Island Hospital, reviewed the charts of 384 emergency department visits for FIA during a six year period beginning January 1, 2004. Of these, 234 (61%) received treatment with epinephrine prior to the visit (the “early” receivers of epinephrine.)
A study presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), asserts that individuals who have outgrown a food allergy may be at risk of developing eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) to the same food.
“EoE is characterized by the presence of large numbers of white blood cells called eosinophils in the tissue of the esophagus, which causes inflammation or swelling of the esophagus,” said Jonathan M. Spergel, MD, PhD, FAAAAI, one of the study authors. “Foods like dairy products, egg, soy and wheat are main causes of EoE.”
On December 5, federal legislation sponsored by Rep Matt Cartwright (D-PA) was introduced in Congress and assigned to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The Alerting Local Leaders and Ensuring Responsible Guidelines for Youth Act (ALLERGY Act), if enacted, would mandate schools develop programs to address the bullying of children with food allergies. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, “31.5% of the children and 24.7% of the parents reported bullying specifically due to FA [food allergy], frequently including threats with foods, primarily by classmates.” The study was based on 251 respondents to a survey of families of children with food allergies.
According to US News and World Report, a study presented this week at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) described the case of a boy who was cured of his peanut allergy after a bone marrow transplant.
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