“My Food Hurt Me”

by Kirke on March 20, 2013

Incremental portions of egg and nuts
Incremental portions of egg and nuts

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01634.x/full

From an unconnected study in Holland from 2008

Incremental portions of egg and nuts

 

This simple statement of a three and half year old boy after suffering an allergic reaction speaks volumes about a tragic fact of life for too many people. The rate of food allergies has more than doubled over the past ten years. One in thirteen children from any classroom will have a food allergy. A recent article in the New York Times Magazine (March 10, 2013) tells the hopeful story of this boy and his family, bravely participating in a clinical trial at Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.  In a clinical trial led by Dr. Kari Nadeau, 85 young patients with multiple allergies are undergoing a grueling desensitizing protocol involving oral immunotherapy that would test any adult’s resolve. They are having some success, but more trials are needed.

I wrote a group paper on the subject a few years ago. At that point many theories abound, but none were decisively leading to positive outcomes. I was rooting for the “hygiene hypothesis,” a theory since discounted (for food allergies anyway) according to this article. There seems to be encouraging progress with this research. They have found that by treating the children’s allergies, they actually change the genes by epigenetics. This refers to parts of our DNA formerly thought to be “junk DNA,” that now are ascribed with regulatory or other important functions. The hope is that these changes will hold for future generations, perhaps turning the tide on the increased prevalence of food allergies.

For all of us who obsess about food and diet, the struggles of children with food allergies certainly puts those obsessions into perspective. Wouldn’t it be nice not to ever hear again the fear expressed in a small child’s naif voice, My food hurt me. Here is the link to the New York Times article by Melanie Thernstrom:

The Allergy Buster

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