11 May 2010


Food Allergies Less Common Than Believed, Study Says

So I was going to post something about Kagan and the Supreme Court, but I'm not sure I really have that much to say. (Except that it's weird to have a nominee younger than my mother. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.) And I know I said I wanted to rely less on my dear NYT, but this one is about food allergies! I love/hate food allergies!

...the true incidence of food allergies is only about 8 percent for children and less than 5 percent for adults, said Dr. Marc Riedl, an author of the new paper and an allergist and immunologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Yet about 30 percent of the population believe they have food allergies.

Firstly, drop all those people who are "allergic" to milk. That's an intolerance to lactose sugar, not an immune response. Then there are all those people out there who subjectively feel better when they exclude some item from their diet. Don't tell me your "corn allergy" presents as lethargy and irritability; if eating a watermellon only made me sleepy and crabby, I eat all the watermelons on earth, forever. Then you have to wonder about people who may have out grown their allergies, but still avoid foods because, how are they to know? Would you eat the peanut butter and risk anaphylaxis? I wouldn't, but I gave up ambulance rides for the recession.

For their report, Dr. Riedl and his colleagues reviewed all the papers they could find on food allergies published between January 1988 and September 2009 — more than 12,000 articles. In the end, only 72 met their criteria, which included having sufficient data for analysis and using more rigorous tests for allergic responses.

When I first started having a reaction to foods, I was in college and had access to a goodly number of journals through the library. I looked up my particular syndrome, I found very little. It was interesting to see lists of "if you can't eat this, watch out for this" but I wanted more numbers, and more about the proteins that were the trigger. Yea... no.

I read what I could, even if I didn't totally understand what was being discussed, and was left with the impression that there was still a lot to be figured out. It's good to know that some one has waded into this mess and is going to make some sense of it.

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