With so many allergens around, more and more kids are hit with food allergies. Whether it’s peanuts, shellfish or milk, food allergies have become one of the most urgent public health issues. New research shows that children with food allergies are still at risk, despite diagnosis. Keeping children at ease seems even harder.
For the most part, when a child is diagnosed with a certain food allergy, parents, caregivers and schools are well aware of that. Given that prevention is the rule of thumb in allergies, young children are closely looked after to prevent an accidental exposure. However a research published today in “Pediatrics” journal, shows children with food allergies are still at risk, despite a known diagnosis and parents’ surveillance.
David Fleischer, National Jewish Health pediatric allergist, and his team have investigated medical reports of over 500 infants diagnosed with some food allergy. The analysis showed that despite avoiding the allergens, accidental and non-accidental exposures are still a risk.
Researchers found that the “high rate of reactions” is “concerning”, given that the diagnosis is clear on what children are allowed to eat. Fleischer added parents should get trained “on a regular basis about food avoidance”, as data showed 50 percent of the allergic reactions were caused by food that parents gave to their children.
In fact, things such as misreading the label, cross-contamination during the food handling or production, as well as unintentional ingestion account for 87 percent of the three most popular food allergies in the study. Young children age 3 months to 15 months had 834 allergic reactions to milk, eggs and peanuts.
Meanwhile, non-accidental exposure accounted for 13 percent of the cases reported. Even though the rate is lower, researchers say the exposure might have happened because of caregivers. Fleischer said caregivers might try “to see if (the child) has outgrown an allergy, or how allergic he is”.
The study aimed to see how well advised the families and caregivers are on food allergy avoidance. It only comes to show that at least half of the allergic reactions children have could have been avoided. Lack of vigilance puts both parents and caregivers at fault.
“Basically everyone who is around the child needs to know about the allergy and understand what to do to keep the child safe” said Dr. Scott Sicherer, co-author of the study.