90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
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.


  • Deborah Kotz, reporter for the Boston Globe

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Guest

    I have this mouth-birch pollen allergy.  I do not feel that Boston Globe reporter Deborah Kotz gave enough credit to how uncomfortable the “itchy mouth” is.  I have had reactions strong enough that I could barely breath and also most of my mouth going numb from eating apples, snap peas, peaches, cherries etc.  There may be something to eating the food over and over again, but it is a scary thing to do when you do have extreme reactions like I have.   

  • Dtygrr

    I believe I have this allergy to birch that manifests as itching/swelling when I eat raw fruits.  I am not sure I heard if there is a treatment to the allergy so that I can eat these foods without symptoms.  What do you suggest people with this allergy talk to their doctors about?

  • WD

    Didn’t the story promise us resources?  Like more info on birch pollen, please.  My mother always said my nut allergy was psychological.  Now I know she was half right.

    • NA

      Say this to the mother of a child who died from eating an allergen/.

    • JM

       Your nut allergy is not half psychological. Even if what you really have is an allergy to birch pollen that is a real allergy. It has nothing to do with some psychological quirk. People don’t choose allergies and as someone who has severe peanut allergy I encourage you to educate yourself more fully about your own allergies because your life could depend on it.

Robin and Jeremy

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

September 1 5 Comments

Breastfeeding Gets A Boost From Philadelphia Hospitals

The city's major birthing hospitals have stopped sending new moms home with baby formula, to encourage breastfeeding.

August 29 Comment

World Championship Tug-Of-War Is ‘A Thing Of Beauty’

This weekend's competition in Wisconsin is a bit more intense than it was in your grade school gym class.

August 29 Comment

Repelling Mosquitoes With A Natural Sticky Patch

The Kite Patch releases odors that block the bug's carbon dioxide receptors, sending them in another direction.

August 28 3 Comments

Catching Up With The Polyphonic Spree

The choral rock band out of Dallas, Texas, has been thrilling audiences with its live performances for over a decade.