Hi Readers! This is news to me: The well-regarded St. Louis Children’s Hospital has a program whereby they take kids who have tested positive for food allergies to see if they really ARE allergic. To that end, they feed the kids a steadily increasing amount of the allergen for hours on end, while closely monitoring them for adverse reactions. Turns out that in about half the cases, there aren’t any.
Well I’ll be a Mr. Goodbar! Another study, published last month in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (no, I don’t read it — I heard about it in the same story I just linked to, above), the University of Manchester performed these “food challenges” on 79 kids who’d tested positive, via a skin or blood test, for peanut allergies. Guess how many turned out NOT to be allergic?
A whopping 66 of them! That means only 13 WERE allergic!
The problem — the BIG problem, it sounds like, to me — is that blood tests measure the antibodies present when a particular allergen is introduced, and skin tests measure hives produced by a prick with the food extract. But it turns out that merely producing antibodies doesn’t mean a person will have any other symptoms, and neither do hives produced via prick. Who knew?
Anyway, I alert us to this info not because I want anyone doubting the veracity of another child’s diagnosis, but only so parents can be aware that perhaps their kids are not living under the allergen-covered Sword of Damocles. I only wish it were easier for the kids to take this “challenge,” to see if they can relax and eat what they want. (Apparently the waiting list can be a year.) Fewer allergic kids could also mean fewer schools having to outlaw peanuts or homemade goodies. Anything that brings homemade cupcakes back into the mix is something I can get behind. — Lenore