Going Gluten-FreeMarch 13, 2013

Allergic Kids Exposed On Purpose

A new study from a research team at Johns Hopkins University asserts that a percentage of food-allergic children develop allergic reactions after being intentionally given their allergen. The culprit? Most often, it’s the mother, researchers say.

Lead investigator Kim Mudd, RN, and her colleagues looked at 1,170 allergic reactions (mostly to milk, eggs or peanuts) reported by 512 families over a 3-year period. The findings revealed that the children who reacted were intentionally fed their food allergen over 11 percent of the time.

Who did the feeding? In 64% of the cases, it was the mother. Fathers, 21% of cases. Grandmothers, 14%. Other caregivers, 2%.

The reasons? Most often (46% of the reactions), the caregiver thought a small amount of the allergen would be safe. Here’s a list of other reasons given for the purposeful exposures.

  • The caregiver wanted to see if the allergy had resolved. (42%)
  • The child had tolerated a baked form of egg or milk, so the caregiver thought it would be safe. (38%)
  • The child had not reacted to the allergen after an earlier exposure. (29%)
  • The caregiver thought the exposure would help resolve the allergy. (25%)
  • The caregiver didn’t consider the child’s earlier reaction that severe. (24%)
  • The caregiver didn’t think the child’s diagnosis was accurate. (15%)
  • The caregiver believed that a decrease in the child’s IgE meant the allergy was resolved. (14%)
  • The caregiver wanted to test the severity of the allergic reaction. (8%)
  • The caregiver had read an article that influenced her/his decision to try the at-home exposure. (4%)
  • The child was scheduled for an in-office oral food challenge so the caregiver decided to try it first at home. (2%)

What’s behind this dangerous activity? Not surprisingly--frustration and impatience on the part of the caregiver. “They want to have their kids’ and their lives as normalized as possible,” said Mudd, as reported by Medscape’s Kate Johnson (medscape.com).

Don’t try this at home. Every parent of a food-allergic kid identifies with the longing to have their child be well, to be like the other kids, to eat like the other kids. But these feelings must never prompt behavior that puts their child at risk.

Study presented at AAAAI 2013 Annual Meeting, 2-24-13. Abstract 451.

Comments (2)

Parents, EDUCATE YOURSELVES. The nurse above has good advice, but unless you're speaking with someone who *specializes* in food allergies, s/he may not be up to date. Not many know about eosinophilic esophagitis or PANDA syndrome. And be sure to UPDATE regularly by googling the latest from reputable sources and/or subscribing to a periodical that does, like Living Without magazine. Lastly, be wary of well-meaning friends who insist you're wrong about that "weird" food allergy. Unless they're an expert themselves, don't listen. And think hard if you do. I listened & ignored my instincts, & now my child's allergy is worse than when we started. If I'd obeyed my instincts, things would be different. Remember, you're the expert on your child. (Or you should be, at least!)

Posted by: KarateLady | March 14, 2013 2:51 PM    Report this comment

I know this type thing happens all too often, being an elementary school NURSE. But even more aware, because I have food allergy as well, PORK. I found out as a result of trying natural thyroid medication, which is made of POVINE / PORK. I had been on antihistamines for over 30 years and had severe migraine h/a's. I thought everybody woke up with h/a's. Since having PORK removed from my diet, I rarely have the need for a decongestant or antihistamine. My sister insisted that she had "slowly introduced" things back into my nephews diet and he "sometimes tolerated it", that I should do the same, I tried, {after all she was my older sister}. Immediately I started tingling round my mouth, lips started swelling and itching, my cheeks appeared like they were on fire. I went to take DOUBLE the nml amnt of antihistamines I would usually have taken. slowly but surely the symptoms went away. Had I eaten the entire piece of PORK, I would have ended up possibly in the ER or ICU. Being an old ICU Nurse anyway, I knew that was not what I wanted. So Parents, listen to the Drs and Nurses. This is why they have the education and wear those name tags..........! Keep your child safe and alive, so as the Dr says. Debbie Britt, RN Cedartown, Ga.

Posted by: Debbie B | March 14, 2013 9:50 AM    Report this comment

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