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Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Date:11/10/2008

ions are allowing the immune system to develop as if 'I don't need you,' " he said.

Other reasons include the increased use of antacids among children, which prevents stomach acid from doing its job, and the increased use of multivitamins, which is associated with an increase in allergies, Bahna said.

Also, eating more highly allergenic foods such as fish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs and soy, as well as the increasing rates of childhood obesity, contribute to the rise in allergies, Bahna said. And, eating out hikes the risk for food allergies because you don't have total control over what you're eating. The ingredients in processed foods can also trigger allergic reactions, according to Bahna.

Allergic reactions can be severe -- even deadly. Current treatment is limited to avoidance of problematic foods and treating the symptoms of the reaction, Bahna said. But new treatments may be on the way.

Dr. Robert A. Wood, director of pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was scheduled to discuss potential new treatments for food allergies at the meeting on Monday. These include anti-IgE antibodies, a Chinese herbal remedy and immunotherapy.

Anti-IgE therapy disrupts the sequence of events that causes an allergic reaction. The treatment appears to work in about 75 percent of patients. Its drawbacks are that it must be given continuously and it does not work in the patient who is too allergic. There are also concerns about its safety and cost, Wood said.

A first clinical trial of the Chinese herbal formula FAHF-2 is also underway, Wood said. In experiments with mice, scientists found that peanut allergy was significantly reduced using this remedy.

The most promising approach appears to be immunotherapy, which is something Wood is involved in developing. In this treatment, tolerance is increased by giving patients increasing amounts of an allergen over time.'/>"/>

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