News briefs from the ACAAI International Food Allergy Symposium

The four abstracts below will be presented as part of the ACAAI International Food Allergy Symposium on Thursday, November 5. The symposium is a chance for world-renowned experts to discuss all aspects of food allergy diagnosis and treatment, and review case histories.

Peanut protein can show up, even in homes with no peanuts

People allergic to peanuts make every effort to avoid anything peanut-related, including having no peanut products in their house. According to a study being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in San Antonio, avoiding peanuts and peanut products doesn’t reduce the level of peanut proteins found in dust in the home. Peanut proteins are the part of a peanut responsible for causing allergic reactions. Researchers examined dust from 24 houses where someone with a peanut allergy lived. Of those, 50 percent reported complete peanut avoidance in the home. They compared those results to a control group of 38 houses where no one lived who had a peanut allergy, and peanuts weren’t restricted. They found the dust collected from peanut allergic homes was not significantly lower in peanut residue than from the control homes. The good news appears to be that for the majority of people with peanut allergy to have a serious allergic reaction, the peanut protein would need to be ingested, either in the form of peanut-containing food or food contaminated with peanut.

Abstract Title: Comparison of Ara h2 in Household Dust of Peanut Allergic vs. Nonallergic Individuals

Author: Jodi Shroba, MSN, APRN, CPNP, ACAAI member

Additional information: There are several misconceptions about peanut allergies. A peanut is a legume (belonging to the same family as soybeans, peas and lentils), not a tree nut. And while it was previously believed that an allergy to peanuts was lifelong, research by the National Institutes of Health shows that about 20 percent of individuals with a peanut allergy eventually outgrow it.

Kids with food allergies aren’t necessarily more anxious than other kids

With the incidence of food allergy in children rising, more kids are faced with the reality that eating something they’re allergic to could cause an extreme, sometimes deadly, anaphylactic reaction. Researchers wondered if the threat of that reaction would cause children with food allergies to be more anxious and display more anxiety disorders. Their research, in a study being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in San Antonio, compared children with a food allergy to both children with a known anxiety disorder and a healthy control group. The authors noted that mothers of the children with food allergies in the study reported a slight increase in panic disorder symptoms in their children. Despite that trend, the children with food allergies appeared to be very similar to the healthy control group, and did not show evidence for increased anxiety.

Abstract Title: Degree of Anxiety in Food Allergic Children in a Tertiary Care Center

Author: Tracy Fausnight, MD, ACAAI Fellow

Additional information: Food allergies are estimated to affect 4 to 6 percent of children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children, but they can appear at any age. You can even develop an allergy to foods you have eaten for years with no problems.

Google searches on food allergy don’t always reflect “real-life” allergy issues

Although people often use Google to help solve medical mysteries, it’s clear from recent research that, in terms of allergies, they’re not always searching for the right information. According to a study being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in San Antonio, food allergy-related internet searches reflect misconceptions about the frequency, causes and symptoms of different food allergies. The authors searched Google Trends for food allergy-related terms to help determine the top queries. They found, for example, that “peanut oil” dominated searches for peanut allergy although peanut oil is not a common cause of peanut allergy. Similarly, they found searches for “coconut” for tree nut allergy even though coconut is not a tree nut, and coconut is also not a common allergen. In addition, “Iodine allergy” dominates the searches for shellfish allergy even though there is no such thing as iodine allergy. Useful information on diagnosing, treating and managing food allergies can be found on the ACAAI website.

Abstract Title: Designing Patient Education on Food Allergy Based on Patient Questions Ranked by Google Algorithm

Author: Vesselin Dimov, MD, ACAAI member

Additional information: While any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all allergies: Eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. A food allergy will usually cause some sort of reaction every time the trigger food is eaten. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and you may not always experience the same symptoms during every reaction. Allergic reactions to food can affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system.

Restrictive diets for kids with food allergies may hinder growth and weight

Parents whose children have been diagnosed with food allergies may inadvertently create diets which cut out too many calories, and their children may be underweight and have poorer growth than children not on restrictive diets. According to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in San Antonio, children with food allergy in the Missouri Department of Health Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Services program had significantly lower weight-for-age (49.5) height-for-age (45.2) and BMI-for-age (61.4) percentiles than children without food allergies. The study examined 1,714 children in the Missouri WIC program who had a physician diagnosis of food allergy. The authors expressed concern that children with food allergy are at risk for lower weight-for-age and height-for-age compared to their peers who don’t have food allergies. It is unclear if the difference is due to dietary restrictions or increased energy burned trying to fight the allergic inflammation. Further study by the authors is underway to understand whether the differences in growth observed are clinically significant and whether food allergic children have an inflammatory process contributing to differences in growth.

Abstract Title: Food Allergy and its Impact on Growth: Missouri WIC 2014 – Present

Author: Maya Nanda, MD, ACAAI member

Additional information: While food labeling has helped make avoiding allergenic foods a bit easier, some foods are so common that avoiding them is daunting. A specialized dietitian or nutritionist may be able to help. These food experts can offer tips for avoiding the foods that trigger allergies and help to ensure your child gets all the nutrients you need. Special cookbooks and support groups, either in person or online, for patients with specific allergies can also provide useful information.


Useful links:

  • Food Allergies
  • Peanut Allergy