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Food Allergies at Highest Levels in History and Will Continue to Rise

In what may end up being the largest of its kind, a new study has found that food allergies are among the most common medical conditions in the U.S. Even worse, the problem seems to be growing.

The newly released study found that nearly three percent of Americans – about 7.5 million people – have a potentially life-threatening allergy to dairy, eggs, shellfish, and the most common allergen: peanuts. About 1.5 percent in the study tested highly positive for the antibodies, which are proteins made when faced with what the body sees as an allergen. Next up was shrimp, at one percent of the people in the study.

“Food allergies are very real,” said study investigator Dr. Robert Wood, director of pediatric allergy and immunology for Hopkins Children’s Hospital. “It’s among the most common chronic diseases in America. Food allergy has the real potential to cause dangerous or deadly reactions, so there needs to be more study and education.”

In fact, Dr. Wood says that the studies estimates are on the conservative side. The reason being is that the study only counted people with severe allergies to the four foods mentioned above. To illustrate how severe food allergies can effect a person, someone allergic to dairy could have a reaction if they eat a fast food hamburger that was cooked on a grill where a cheeseburger was cooked an hour earlier.

It wasn’t long ago that food manufacturers didn’t have to reveal on their labels that the food was in contact with known food allergens. Greater awareness is key, as people will then be able to see their doctor and possibly test for allergens. Armed with the knowledge, we can make informed decisions.

“It wasn’t talked about eight years ago,” says Jessica Meyrowitz, whose son is allergic to dairy. “Now I know tons of moms whose kids have allergies. This study confirmed what I already knew, and I’m not surprised. I think there may be more allergies, but really I think people just didn’t know about it before, or they dismissed it.”

via: L.A. Times

October 22nd, 2010

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