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Students with food allergies often not prepared
Date:8/5/2008

ANN ARBOR, Mich. College students with food allergies aren't avoiding the foods they know they shouldn't eat. Students of all ages are not treated with potentially life-saving epinephrine as often as they should be. And instructors, roommates and friends often are not aware of what to do if a food-allergic student has a reaction.

These are some of the findings of recent studies at the University of Michigan Health System. The research suggests that many college students with food allergies aren't taking the threat of a reaction seriously enough, or are regularly in environments where they could not be properly treated during an emergency. In addition, grade-school students are often in school environments where there is no food allergy policy, and where instructors are not trained how to treat an emergency food allergy reaction.

In four related studies about food allergies, the researchers found a common theme: "Food-allergic individuals need to increase the awareness of their food allergy among the people around them," says lead researcher Matt Greenhawt, M.D., MBA, who conducted the research while he was a fellow in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the U-M Health System and now is an associate at the Allergy & Asthma Center, LLC in the Atlanta metro area.

"This would include not only telling them that they are food allergic but also showing them how to treat them and how to recognize signs of an ongoing reaction," Greenhawt notes.

The most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Food allergies can lead to death; a life-threatening reaction caused by allergies is called anaphylaxis. Food allergy occurs in 6 to 8 percent of children 4 years old or under, and in 3.7 percent of adults, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Among college students, researchers found that only 50 percent of the students who identif
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Contact: Katie Vloet
kgazella@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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