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Food Allergy Facts Need More Focus

Many U.S. adults unaware there is no cure, survey finds

THURSDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- More than two-thirds of U.S. adults mistakenly believe that daily medicine can be taken to prevent a food allergy reaction, according to a survey that found a widespread lack of knowledge and awareness about food allergy among the general public.

The online survey of 2,148 adults also found that nearly half of respondents incorrectly believed that there is a cure for food allergy. More than 40 percent wrongly said that life-threatening allergic reactions could be prevented through means other than strict allergen avoidance, the researchers noted.

"The public's food allergy knowledge and awareness is critical to the safety of children with food allergy, especially since 76 percent of food allergy-related deaths follow consumption of foods outside of the home. Food allergy is a growing concern, affecting an estimated 6 percent to 8 percent of children in the United States," study author Dr. Ruchi S. Gupta, of Children's Memorial Research Center in Chicago, said in a news release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The survey also found that 85 percent of respondents agreed that schools should have plans to keep food-allergic children safe, according to the report in the July issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

"Although there was agreement that schools need better policies to manage food allergies, most parents were not in favor of implementation of specific school policies, such as banning peanut products and having special tables for food-allergic children," Gupta said in the news release.

"The public's knowledge was strongest regarding symptoms and severity of food allergy, with nearly 95 percent of participants recognizing food allergy as a potentially fatal condition," the researchers noted.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about food allergy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, July 2009

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