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Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Allergy Test Offers Hope For Some Families

Bryce Blaylock, 5, of Bristow, Va., eating popcorn inside the “peanut-free” suite section of Nationals Park in Washington. Both Blaylock and his younger brother have peanut allergies that keep them from coming to most games. (AP)

New research finds that some kids may be over-treated for allergies. According to researchers at Stanford, five to 12 percent of kids test positive for allergies to milk, shrimp, peanuts or eggs, but less than three percent actually have allergic reactions to those foods.

uKnow Peanut Allergy Test

A new blood test is eliminating some of the confusion about peanut allergies specifically.

The uKnow Peanut Molecular Allergy Test is given to kids who are suspected of having peanut allergies, and Boston Globe reporter Deborah Kotz says the test shows that some kids who thought they had a life-threatening peanut allergy actually have a less serious pollen allergy.

“They are allergic, but it’s not a food allergy, it’s a birch pollen allergy and it makes their mouth very itchy when they eat not only peanuts, but… raw fruits and vegetables that have similar proteins to birch polen,” Kotz told Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Pollen vs. Food Allergies

“There is a distinction between pollen allergies — ragweed, grass — the types of allergies that make us sneeze, and then there are the food allergies that can not only cause sneezing and coughing… [they] can cause breathing difficulties, and some kids [can go] into Anaphylaxis where  they could die from eating a certain food,” Kotz said.

Kotz says that when kids find out that they do not have the peanut allergy, but just a pollen allergy, they may be told they no longer have to avoid peanuts. But she cautions that many kids do still have life-threatening peanut allergies and cannot eat peanuts.

Guest:

  • Deborah Kotz, reporter for the Boston Globe

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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