As it so often is, the topic of food allergies seems to be heavy in the news these days. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the recently published, largest study ever to track childhood food allergies in the United States shows that food allergies may be more dangerous as well as more severe than previously thought.
This month, a comprehensive study was published online by the journal, Pediatrics. The objective of this study, was to better estimate the prevalence and severity of childhood food allergy in the United States. “What I don’t think people understand is that (food allergies) can be life-threatening. You can have a severe reaction and end up in the hospital and even die of food allergy,” said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the study.
This recent study shows that where it once thought that about 4% of kids have some sort of food allergy, in actuality it is closer to 8% being allergic to at least one type of food. One reason this study may have higher statistics is that it is a larger study that evaluated many different foods. According to a piece on Web Md, it also states that the study holds importance because it not only covered the basic statistics, but also hints at some of the misery that is visited on children with food allergies.
It is hard for people without food allergies to understand what those with them have to go through. My friend who I have mentioned recently who just had two of her children diagnosed with Celiac Disease finally got in touch with a leader of a support group. The support group leader asked her where she was in the first stages of the diagnosis. She said, “Have you been to the grocery store, freaked out and cried yet?”
I remember doing that when my daughter was diagnosed with her food allergy. I still remember walking through the store wanting to cry at all the things she couldn’t have anymore. There certainly is a lot of emotional toll on a family with food allergies, and it is important that others realize we are not trying to control or baby or alienate our children; we just want them to safe. I was glad to see that this study tackled this aspect.
Dangers Continue, Especially for Teenage Boys
The study also showed that almost 40% of kids with a food allergy exhibit some form of a severe reaction such as wheezing or anaphylaxis, and that allergies tend to peak in preschoolers, those kids around 3 – 5 years old. However, another maybe the most dangerous time, according to the study, is the teenage years, especially for boys. They tend to exhibit more reckless behavior and that even encompasses not wanting to ask questions regarding food allergies in restaurants and with friends.
Maybe what we can take from this is that we still need to coach our kids. It’s not enough to teach them how to act and eat when they set off for kindergarten or their first sleepover. We need to remind them when they go out with friends or on a date. We need to get it in their heads when they go off to college and maybe even a bit more reckless. It is way cooler to ask if there are any peanut products in the kitchen than pass out with anaphylactic shock, and as they get older, they need to know this. They need to stay careful and keep their Epipens with them, even if it’s not cool.
Now we have a study to support all of this.