Thanks to http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/jump-in-allergy-risk-for-babies/story-e6frf7jo-1225825035956 for this article:
Jump in allergy risk for babies * Mary Papadakis * From: Sunday Herald Sun
* January 31, 2010 12:00AM
FOOD allergies among infants have doubled, with more than 5000 Victorian babies at risk each year.
A world-first study has revealed up to 8 per cent of babies – or about 24,000 in Australia – are likely to develop potentially deadly food allergies by the age of one.
It was previously believed to be about 4 per cent.
The research may lead to new advice about how and when to introduce high-risk allergen foods to children, new dietary information for pregnant women and routine skin-prick testing of infants for early signs of an allergy.
Associate Professor Katie Allen, of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, said researchers were surprised at the rapid rise in allergies.
“It’s astoundingly high – we were amazed,” she said.
“This will be among the highest rates in the world.”
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In a world-first, the MCRI “Health Nut” study is based on the results of several hundred food challenges – instead of only skin-prick test results.
Infants were exposed to the allergens peanut butter, egg, sesame, cow’s milk and shrimp.
About 8 per cent had reactions ranging from hives and facial swelling to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Associate Prof Allen said most were allergic to egg, followed by peanuts.
She said the study aimed to gather data on the rate of the “epidemic”, explore links to eczema and asthma and led to a way to modify the immune system to prevent allergies.
“We’ve got rapidly increasing food allergy occurring and we don’t know why,” she said.
“Parents need to be informed and they need to be informed on evidence, not just opinion.”
Kara Smith’s daughter, Natalie, 15 months, was diagnosed with a peanut allergy after having anaphylaxis while taking part in the research.
“If there’s a silver lining in this dark cloud, it’s that the more awareness in the community that this is a real condition and it is life-threatening, the more likely these kids can live a normal life,” Ms Smith said.
Patricia Ilhan of the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation, which was set up with late husband John Ilhan, founder of Crazy John’s, after their daughter, Jaida, was diagnosed with a nut allergy, said the new research showed food allergy was a major public health crisis.