Food Allergy Poll. Please read. . .

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The AAP states that food allergies develop more commonly with foods that are eaten only on occasion with fairly long periods of abstinance in between than they do with foods that are eaten everyday. With this in mind, if you or anyone you know became allergic to a food that you/they were not formerly allergic to, was it a food that was eaten regularly or on occasion?

(I'm asking this partly out of curiousity, and partly because I am wondering whether or not to keep feeding my 2 year old products that contain almonds on a regular basis (he is not allergic to almonds & I was already feeding my son products with almonds regularly before finding out that I should not have started until the age of 3). I just found out that he has a walnut allergy which was a surprise before I read the comment from the AAP as we hardly ever ate anything with walnuts. So I wonder if I will actually be INCREASING his chances of develping an allergy if I cut out almonds now?) I look forward to reading your responses!! Amy

On Apr 9, 2002

I just heard this theory from my allergist as well. However, cannot comment on the actual findings with myself or my dd, we didn't necessarily follow this trend, but if your dd was doing fine and isn't actually testing allergic to almonds,I think I would keep giving her almonds!(IMO of course). Who/what is AAP??

On Apr 9, 2002

Very strange. [img][/img] Is this new opinion based on a particular recent research study?

I am also perplexed by this since epidemiological studies (many of them long-term ones) have shown on many occasions that cultures differ in prevelant food allergies based upon the most common foodstuffs within the culture... Rice allergy, while exceedingly rare in N. America and Western Europe, is not unusual in Asia. Fish allergies are fairly common in Northern European countries like Sweden and Norway....

Anyway, I am also curious as to the source of this new theory, since that seems to contradict what several major studies have found over the past thirty years.

I *have* heard that regular but infrequent exposures to an allergen you have already been sensitized to is a good recipe for increasingly severe reactions to it.

The other thing that I have heard from all of our allergists is that any of the high-protein foods in the big 8 are potent sensitizers and we should avoid them... so even though our daughter had been exposed to tuna before we knew anything about her food allergies we've been advised to avoid all fish indefinitely. When we recently asked about when to introduce tree nuts, our allergist basically looked at us and said "are you insane? 'Never' is the best time."

On Apr 10, 2002

This is news to me. (By the way, the AAP is the American Academy of Pediatrics.) I was under the impression that food allergies are so prevalent because in modern cultures we don't eat a large variety of food and we eat the same thing all year round. In our old hunter/gatherer times, people ate a much larger variety of food and they ate what was in season, so it varied throughout the year. I try to make a point NOT to eat the big allergens to often--soy for example. Does anyone have a link to the study?

As for the almond thing, when we found out our son was allergic to all nuts and peanuts, we stopped giving our daughter nuts even though she tolerated them fine. We plan to keep her off of them until she's about 5--she'll be 4 next week.

On Apr 10, 2002

I really can't comment on the origin or source of the theory, but my allergist said that in a year or two there might be a totally different way of thinking about food allergies, that no exposure, or alot of exposure to an allergen may be better than a little here and there. I don't have data to back me up, but I do have a highly respected pediatric allergist, and I trust what he tells us.

On Apr 11, 2002

Thank you so much for your comments. That comment I mentioned came from "Guide to your Child's Allergies & Asthma" written by the American Academy of Pediatrics, copyright 2000 on page 66 (in the chapter on anaphylaxis). Here's the exact quote: "Ther risk of anaphylaxis seems to be higher when a youngster has had several brief exposures to an allergenic substance, followed by a long contact-free lull. The next contact, after this interval, is the one that may trip the wire for an anaphylactic episode. Also, the more often a person comes in contact with a potentially allergenic substance, the higher the statistical chances that an anaphylactic reaction could occur. But as noted earlier, anaphylaxis is highly unpredictable, and an attack may occur in the rare child who has no provious know contact with the allergen." So there's the quote, written in the semi-conflicting nature that most allery information is written in. And that's what had me wondering about whether it's worse to keep a potential allergen around on a daily basis (even though it increases the frequency of exposure), or to try to cut it out altogether while risking the chance of accidental, periodic exposure. The information about rice allergy in other countries, clues me in to the fact that allergies can develop with everyday exposure (although I can't tell what percentage of those cases had an allergic reaction on the first exposure), but I still think it would be facinating to learn some of the conditions that cause an allergic reaction to something that was not formerly an allergen. So please feel free to share your stories. Here are a few of mine: I am severly allergic to kiwi. I ate them almost everyday when I lived in Taiwan and had absolutely no problem. Then after I came back, I ate them only on a few rare occasions. The second time I ate one here in the U.S. my throat & ears became unbearably itchy, and I became aware that I had an allergy to kiwi. My DS has had products with almonds regularly since about age 1 1/2 (I would have waited had I known what I know now) and was given products with walnuts on only a few rare occasions. He is allergic to walnuts, but not almonds. As for my DD, she was given PB at 9 months (I was not happy about it as I had just stepped out for a second when my friend gave her PB on a cracker) and since she got PB SO early, I don't know if it matters that she only got peanut products on occasion (some exposure was accidental). Thank you so much for you input, & please feel free to share your stories.

On Apr 11, 2002

That's what I was referring to in my earlier post, actually- about occasional exposures to a *known* allergen. Note that the person needs to already BE allergic for it to trip anaphylaxis, evidently. So the fact that a person gets stung by a bee once every five to ten years doesn't make them more likely to develop a severe allergy... unless they are already allergic to begin with. Nobody would be nuts enough to try to get stung more regularly in the hopes of not ever getting a severe allergy (I don't think [img][/img]). I know one person who was a beekeeper, in fact, who developed a severe allergy and was told that it was the direct result of FREQUENT exposure.

The theory that I have heard in reading four or five of these epidemiological studies is that the most common food allergies in a culture tend to be one of two types of foods: 1) those that are most prevalent foodstuffs in the culture and are therefore often some of the earliest exposures to food proteins as well as the most frequent exposures, and 2) those that are highly allergenic and so common in the food of the culture that early sensitization via cross-contamination is likely in sensitive children.

Note that pn fits both profiles in north America.... but rice fits neither... Rice does fit the first one in Asia, however. Wheat allergy is not so common there- but it is here. Sesame allergy is fairly common (like PA, I understand) in the middle east- it fits both criteria there. Remember, though, a lot of this is still pure conjecture. I don't think that removing almonds from your child's diet at this point (especially since you already know that he has at least one tn allergy) is going to be harmful at all. In fact, it actually improves your overall safety since cross-contamination is minimized from that source. But I also think you should *really* ask your allergist about it.

On Apr 11, 2002

I think that much of what we read and hear about regarding allergies is contraditory due to the fact that there are still so many unknowns about allergies and what really happens and why. Some people become desensitized due to repeated exposure from the allergen or allergy shots. People also lose their allergy after they strictly avoid the substance. Personally, I was allergic to cats when young, decided to get a cat, lost the allergy while I was living with the cat, but now, 4 years after the cat died, I am again allergic to cats. Also, when I was young, I would get hives when I ate shellfish, but continued to eat shellfish, (knew no better back then)and lost the allergy. Would I feed my child the peanuts, nuts, dairy, egg, or sesame seeds that he is allergic to? No way! Too scary! But why are allergy shots recommended for some things and not others? Very contradictory, these allergies are.

On Apr 11, 2002

In my experience this theory is not true. My son became allergic to cod after 2 years of eating it at least once a week (no breaks - he loved fish fingers). The same thing happened with baked beans.

On Apr 12, 2002

Thank you SO MUCH for your feedback. Earlier, I had not caught on to the fact that the book was refering to frequent exposure to something that someone is already allergic to (for some reason I was thinking "potential allergen") and that certainly would be an off the wall example in the case of bee stings, PA and TNA! I for one would not get stung by a bee regularly!!

Thank you too for all your stories. I was under the impression that allergen desensitization often led to not having that particular allergy, but it looks like that is not often the case. I am really new to the realm of PA & TNA (as recently as last month) so if you have anything to add please do so. Although I have been reading nonstop, I feel like I could use all the information I could get (& the more I learn about this, the more questions I have). Thank you again for your invaluable stories & info!