Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend a Q&A session with Dr. Robert Wood, director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Dr. Wood is a leader in the fight against food allergy. He treats some 4000 patients in his practice, heads up a research team dedicated to finding a treatment and cure for food allergies and suffers from a peanut allergy himself.
Dr. Wood knows food allergies.
At the Q&A, Dr. Wood shared updates on the research his team has been doing and answered questions from many of the 50 or more parents who were in attendance. I learned a lot from the Q&A. Here are a few things I found interesting (and a little disheartening):
- Boys are twice as likely to develop food allergies as girls.
- Siblings have an increased chance of developing food allergies, although other factors come into play. (fingers crossed for a girl if we have another child)
- Food allergies peak between the ages of 1 and 3 whereas environmental allergies peak around ages 5 and 6.
- Children with food allergies are at increased risk of developing Asthma, which rears its ugly head between the ages of 2 and 3. (we’re in that window)
- An eczema outbreak can increase a RAST score, the measurement of the severity of the food allergy as determined by a blood test.
- In Dr. Wood’s opinion, blood tests are a better marker of food allergies than the skin scratch test but it also varies by lab.
- Milk allergies have worsened. The stats for children who outgrow a milk allergy have changed from 80% by age 5 to 50% by age 12. (not encouraging for baby boy)
- Milk and eggs lose their potency when heated, which is why some children with those allergies can tolerate baked goods. (maybe he can eat cake one day)
- Peanuts become more potent when heated.
- While 90% of peanut oil is safe to consume, peanut oil is the third most likely cause of an allergic reaction. Best to just avoid it.
- Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid peanuts. It’s not necessary to avoid the other allergens unless the child is reacting to that food.
- Chick peas are related to peanuts. (maybe that’s why the toddler broke out when eating hummus)
- Researchers are trying to determine why food allergies have increased. Some theories include Vitamin D deficiency and increased exposure to follates. (damn those prenatal vitamins)
Disclaimer: I am by no means a medical expert. I’m just a mother to a toddler with food allergies. These are the notes I took while listening to a medical expert. You might want to (and probably should) do your own research to verify this information as it pertains to you.