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Debunking Food Allergy Myths

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Food allergies can be common, but they can be dangerous, especially in children. In the previous Healthy Living report, NY1's Jill Urban explained what to look out for, and how to treat allergies. In part two of her report, she helped debunk some common myths about food allergies.

From peanuts and tree nuts to eggs and milk, pediatric food allergies can be scary and dangerous. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there. We asked Dr. Jacob Kattan, a pediatric allergist at the Mount Sinai Hospital, to clarify a few things.

First, is it possible to develop an allergy after you have been exposed to something?

“Typically we don’t see people become allergic to food they are regularly tolerating. It's very rare to eat peanuts five times and react the sixth time. Nothing is impossible, but that is very rare,” he says.

He says it is also a myth that if you have a reaction to a food once, the next reaction will be more severe. There is no way to determine severity.

Some people think peanut or tree nut allergies are worse than others. Not true. All allergies can be dangerous.

Also, many times allergies are genetic, but the child may not always be allergic to the same thing as the parents. Even someone with eczema or seasonal allergies can have a child with food allergies.
Many parents panic if they see hives or other signs of an allergy, but he says it might not always be what you think.

“Often allergic symptoms are mimicked by other disorders, so the most common thing we see in pediatrics is that people have hives from viruses. A lot of times children with asthma will have trouble breathing and it might not be trouble breathing from a food allergy,” Kattan says.

He says many people do not realize that allergies are not always forever. Many kids do outgrow some allergies like milk and eggs, but that is not as common with peanuts and tree nuts. It is possible to only be allergic to foods like egg or milk their raw state, but not when they are in baked goods. Parents and children diagnosed with allergies need to read labels carefully and need to be aware constantly.

Now even if your child does not have a food allergy, you need to be careful. We always encourage our children to share, but they should ask first when it comes to food, because you may not know if another child has a food allergy.

Dr. Kattan suggests all kids with allergies wear a medical alert bracelet. To learn more about pediatric food allergies you can visit KidsWithFoodAllergies.org and ACAAI.org.

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