Allergies affect many of us. Do you know that allergy is the 5th leading chronic disease in US? One out of five people suffer from it. The annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses is estimated in $7.9 billion. There are many different types of allergies and they all affecting us in different ways from mild irritation to life threatening. Skin allergies cause itchiness and hives where food allergies may result in a fatal anaphylaxis. Dust allergies may trigger asthma in children and drug allergies may cause upset stomach or become life threatening. A simple blood test or skin test at the doctor’s office can help you find out if you have certain kind of allergy. Here are 5 new facts of allergies from the results of some recent studies.
1) Does eczema affect Vitamin D level in our bodies?
In a Letter to the Editor recently published in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI), Noh and his colleagues have examined patients with atopic dermatitis (eczema) or asthma and compare them with healthy volunteers. Their study included 82 eczema patients, 38 asthma patients, and 49 healthy volunteers. Noh and his colleagues found that Vitamin D was significantly decreased in patients with eczema when compared to patients with asthma and healthy controls. However, there was no difference in Vitamin D level between the asthma patients and healthy volunteers. Based on the results, the scientists suggested that eczema patients may have lower Vitamin D production in the skin because their skin is impaired due to the cutaneous inflammation. (Ref: April 7, 2014 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology)
2) What is the cause of increasing rates of allergy to peanut and tree nuts in kids?
J. Hsu, S. Missmer, M. Young and other scientists studied 1,271 children and their parents to answer the following question: Are the growing rates of children allergic to peanut and tree nuts relate to mother’s diet or medications? Peanut or sesame seed oil is common ingredient in progesterone formulations and it is used in assisted reproduction (in vitro fertilization). They found that mothers with history of infertility, in vitro fertilization or use of progesterone had not direct relation to the children’s peanut/tree nuts allergy. However, they found that expected mothers during the first two trimesters with diets including peanut/tree nuts, increase the odd ratio of 1.6 of for the children to have allergy in peanut/tree nuts or sesame seeds. The odd ratio is twice as strong in children with asthma or environmental allergies. The study concluded that ingestion of peanut/tree nuts or sesame during pregnancy may increase the risk of childhood peanut, tree nuts or sesame seed allergy. (Ref: Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology 2013; 111:391-396)
3) Which one has a higher risk – death from food allergy or death from a car accident?
Food Allergies are the most common cause of anaphylaxis and it can be fatal. Anaphylaxis is a rapidly progressing and life-threatening allergic reaction, such as airway constriction, skin and intestinal irritation, and altered heart rhythms. Based on an European review of the medical literature from 1946 to 2012, they found 13 studies reporting a total of 240 deaths from food allergy anaphylaxis over an estimation of 165 million food-allergic people. This gives a ratio of fatal food anaphylaxis of 1.81 per million people. The incident rate for younger age group (age 0 to 19 years) is 1.2 – 2.4 times higher than the adult group. To avoid distorted perspective on the risk of death due to this disease, the scientists concluded that the risk of dying from food allergy is less than 1:100,000. It is much lower than the risk of dying in a car accident, slightly lower than the risk of being murdered, but higher risk than being fatally struck by lightning. Regardless the risk rate of food allergy fatalities, it is always tragic when someone dies from a food allergy. That is why doctors emphasize the importance of strict avoidance and anaphylaxis action plans to patients and/or their parents. (Ref: March – April 2014 Issue of Allergy Watch: a Publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology and T. Umasunthar, J. Leonardi-Bee, M. Hodes, et al in Clinical Experimental Allergy 2013 Issue 43 p.1333-1341)
4) How does maternal asthma affect in a child’s long term health?
A group of scientists (M. Tegethoff, J. Olson, E. Schaffner, and G. Meinlschmidt) studied 66,712 mother-child pairs, including 4,145 pairs in which the mother had asthma during pregnancy. The data was evaluated in the children at a median age of 6.2 years, using information from Danish national registries to determine if maternal asthma posed a health risk for various diseases in children. The study found that there were no link between maternal asthma and neoplasms, mental disorders, blood or immune diseases, and diseases of the circulatory, musculoskeletal, and genitourinary systems in children. However, maternal asthma was associated with increased risk, including infectious and parasitic diseases, nervous system diseases, ear diseases, respiratory system diseases, and skin diseases. But the causes of these associations are unknown. The study reminds us the importance of monitoring asthmatic mothers during pregnancies closely. (Ref: Pediatrics. 2013;132:483-491)
5) Do you know people with latex allergy may also have food allergy?
The tree sap from Hevea brasiliensis, also known as the rubber tree, makes latex. This natural rubber latex is not the same as the synthetic rubber made from chemicals. The “latex” house paint is an example of a synthetic rubber product. It is not made with natural latex; therefore, it does not trigger allergic reactions for people who are allergic to latex.
According the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology’s website, people with latex allergy can also have food allergies. The foods most likely to cause this problem include apple, avocado, banana, carrot, celery, chestnut, kiwi, melon, papaya, raw potato and tomato. If you have latex allergy, you need to avoid direct contact with products contain latex and avoid food that causes the allergic reaction. When receiving dental, medical, or surgical treatments, make sure your doctor is aware of your allergy. Most clinic or hospital can provide latex-safe area for patients to receive treatments. (Ref: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology)
For more information or have any health concerns, please consult with your doctor or a board certified Allergist.
References and additional resources:
- American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology AAAAI
- American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)
- US National Library of Medicine
- WebMD Allergy Statistics