The current New Yorker unfolds an engaging story on childhood food allergies. As related by Dr. Jerome Groopman, there’s a shift in how some doctors think about how these conditions are best managed and, even better — might be prevented. The article feeds into recent discussion that medical science, and even dogma, too-often turns out to be incorrect.
Groopman interviews Dr. Hugh Sampson, director of the Jae Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York:
…“This increase in the incidence of food allergy is real,” Sampson said when we spoke recently. He cannot say what is causing the increase, but he now thinks the conventional approach to preventing food allergies is misconceived. For most of his career, he believed, like most allergists, that children are far less likely to become allergic to problematic foods if they are not exposed to them as infants. But now Sampson and other specialists believe that early exposure may actually help prevent food allergies.”
I recommend the full read if you can get it: Groopman probes potential causes of discordant food allergy rates in children of different geographic regions. I learned a number of details on how some doctors in the U.S. use protein-breakdown methods to desensitize children to food allergies, how in Israel newly-speaking infants are said to ask eagerly for Bamba, a manufactured, peanut-containing snack (which, for the record, I don’t particularly endorse), and how in some cultures parents chew their young children’s food in a manner that might that might facilitate breakdown of complex proteins by enzymes in saliva.
All interesting. Of course it’s hard to know exactly what’s true in this, and the causes of allergies are likely to vary among children. There’s a randomized LEAP study (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) in the U.K. that may provide some hard evidence on this, one way or another.
The guidelines establish consistent terminology and definitions, diagnostic criteria and patient management practices. Additional topics covered by the guidelines include the prevalence of food allergy and management of acute allergic reactions to food, including anaphylaxis. The report also identifies gaps about what is known about food allergy.
NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MACP, said, “Because these guidelines provide standardized, concise recommendations on how to diagnose and manage food allergy and treat acute food allergy reactions across specialties, we expect both clinicians and food allergy patients to greatly benefit from these clear state-of-the-science clinical standards.” Read more »
Martin Oeggerli, a Swiss scientific photographer, has turned his talents to the bane of seasonal allergy sufferers and produced a pretty impressive gallery of colorized electron microscope images of pollen grains. The color isn’t true to life in all of the images, but it’s altered to better show the textures in the pollen grains:
I don’t know about you, but my allergies have really been acting up lately. Well, maybe not this week since it’s been cooler. But last week my eyes were watering, my nose was running, and my lungs were wheezing (kind of). But for the first two weeks of August, a lot of my patients were complaining about their allergy symptoms getting worse. And for some people, their asthma was getting worse as well.
The local TV station called me last week during the beginning of ragweed pollen season and asked me to talk about it:
“All natural. Certified organic. Made from natural ingredients. Pure botanicals. Chemical free.”
You might guess I’m standing in the farmers market. Nope. I’m in the “Health and Beauty” aisle at Target. The ubiquitous all-things-natural trend has overtaken the cosmetic industry. How do you know what’s real and what’s marketing hype? Here are five things you should know about organic beauty product labels:
1. Labels that say “natural ingredients” or “botanicals” are not certified organic. These statements are not regulated. Most natural ingredients used in beauty products are actually modified in a lab. Truly botanical ingredients, like you’d pick in your garden, are usually unstable and would spoil like food.
2. Natural doesn’t always mean better. Would you buy: Poison Ivy Eye-Cream? Stinging Nettles Anti-Itch Gel? The most toxic and allergy-inducing ingredients are naturally occurring substances, not manufactured ones. Read more »
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