December 2016 Food Allergy Research Roundup


There’s always something going on in the world of food allergies. Here is some new information on what’s happening this month. Check back soon for more new developments.

Immunotherapy Technique May Cure Food Allergies

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have developed a new immunotherapy technique that reduces anaphylactic reactions in allergic mice by up to 90 per cent with a single treatment. This technique involves generating immune cells that send a signal to reverse the response that triggers allergic reactions. There is compelling evidence that this could be effective in humans. With the approval of Health Canada, human trials could begin in one year, and treatment may be available on the market in 10 years or less.

 Young Children with Food Allergies at Risk for Respiratory Conditions

A recent study revealed that young children diagnosed with food allergies early in life are at high risk for developing respiratory conditions such as asthma or rhinitis during the first five years of life. Using electronic data from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, researchers extracted and reviewed diagnostic information of children who received care throughout their health system. A group of more than 29,000 children were followed from birth to age five. Researchers concluded that children with food allergies have higher rates of respiratory conditions such as asthma or rhinitis, prompting the need for closer surveillance and further research.

Race may be a Factor in Food Allergies

A study published November 21 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that race may be a factor in the development of food allergies. According to this study, black and Hispanic children are more likely to have allergies to corn, fish or shellfish than Caucasian children. Black children also have higher rates of eczema, asthma and allergies to soy and wheat. The only allergy more prevalent in white children is to tree nuts such as cashews, almonds and pecans. Further research is needed in order to understand the development of food allergies in all races and ethnicities.

Shoppers Often Confused by Food Labels

recent survey of those with food allergies or who have a family member with food allergies revealed that about 40 percent of responders bought products even though they had precautionary labels. For those with food allergies, consuming these products could lead to serious consequences. Major allergens such as peanuts, eggs, milk and wheat must be identified on labels if this food is an ingredient. But some food labels aren’t very clear. Labels that are frequently misunderstood could say “may contain” or “manufactured on shared equipment.” When food is produced on shared equipment, there could be enough of a trace of the food to still be dangerous to someone with a food allergy. Since the amount of an allergen that is required to trigger a reaction varies from one person to the next, it’s impossible to know whether a food with a precautionary label is dangerous. Parents with children with food allergies should avoid any food that indicates that it may contain an allergen.