Food Allergies on the Rise. Will there be a cure?

There is new data that suggested that introducing common allergenic foods such as peanut may reduce a child’s risk for developing food allergies,  according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).  The new recommendations are quite different from the guidelines that were issued in 2000, which advocated for delayed introduction of peanut and tree nuts until a child turned 3 years of age.

We have seen that food allergies are on the rise, and that there has been about a 50% increase in the past 10 years.  It is estimated that 1 in 13 kids under the age of 18 years have a food allergy, which is about 2 kids in every classroom!

Researchers are still trying to understand why some foods like peanuts trigger the immune system into thinking that particular food is a threat.  The mainstay of treatment is avoidance of the culprit food and the use of the epinephrine auto-injector for systemic reactions caused by accidental ingestions.  It is extremely important for the patient and his or her parents to understand exactly which foods are culprit foods, and how an accidental ingestion of an allergenic food should be handled.

So will there be a cure anytime soon?  At this point in time, there is still no definitive cure for food allergies.  Desensitization is the current focus of many research projects, which involves giving the subject increasing doses of the food allergen over time.  New data suggests that all patients’ long-term responses to this form of food allergy therapy is not uniform and the protection may not last.  Although the research is promising, a full out cure is likely years away.  It is important to note that therapy for food allergy is experimental, risky and may not work in the long term.  The studies for food allergy therapies should be considered investigational at this time, and should be conducted with highly trained personnel in research settings with the approval of the Institutional Review Boards and the FDA.

 

-By Faith Huang, M.D.

Allergy & Asthma Associates of Southern California provides relief from allergies, asthma, sinus problems, chronic cough and other related conditions. Dr. William E. Berger, Dr. Warner W. Carr, Dr. Mark S. SugarDr. Christina D. Schwindt, and Dr. Faith R. Huang together with their staff specialize in allergy and immunology in Southern California.

If you or your child is suffering from a food allergy or any other kind of allergy, please call us at (949) 364-2900 to schedule your appointment today. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule a future appointment.

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