Recent studies into the prevention and cure of allergies in children could be leading to risky behaviours by parents of kids with allergies.
The LEAP study shows that introducing peanut into your baby’s diet around 4 – 6 months old can help prevent a peanut allergy.
Allergy immunotherapy, the process of ingesting tiny amounts of the food the child is allergic to and gradually building the amount up, has shown to cure about two thirds of participants in clinal trials.
These results may be leading some parents of kids with allergies to give their child the food they are allergic to in order to see if they are still allergic.
Dr Julie Wang and her colleagues at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City conducted a survey into allergy management in their patients’ households.
“During our patient visits, we routinely counsel families about food allergy management to reduce the risk of allergic reactions. However, we noted that in some cases, our patients experienced allergic reactions that were associated with risk-taking behaviour.”
100 English speaking parents of children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years were asked about potentially risky allergy management behaviours.
- Over 70% reported that their child had had an allergic reaction in the past year with almost 40% reporting at least three reactions.
- About 1 in 4 of the children had been treated with adrenaline in the past. One third were treated in the emergency room and about 5% had been hospitalised at least once in their lifetime.
- Over 20% of the parents said they had intentionally exposed their kids to the food they are allergic to to see if they were still allergic or to help “treat” the allergy.
- 17% gave the allergic food to their child because they had never had a bad reaction.
- About 11% of parents gave their child the allergy-inducing foods because they didn’t have time to read the labels and 7% said the food costs were a barrier to allergen avoidance.
- 10% of respondents did not know how to eliminate the food from their child’s diet and 14% were confused about which foods they needed to exclude.
- 58% of parents reported carrying their adrenaline auto-injector at all times yet only 42% had it with them at the clinic.
This information shows the importance of allergy education in the households of children with food allergies. Reviewing allergen avoidance and label reading should be a part of every visit to the child’s allergist or other healthcare provider.
Currently, the only allergic reaction prevention therapy is strict avoidance of the allergic food.