Atopic Dermatitis, Peanuts, and Genetics

Allergists and immunologists for years have noted the association of skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and eczema and food allergies, especially allergies to peanuts.  Heredity has also been a suspect in both conditions.  But now there is more than anecdotal evidence.

A large group of researchers working in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, and Ireland published their findings last year in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.  They were attempting to identify if the genetic coding for filaggrin is a candidate gene in the etiology of peanut allergy.  Filaggrin is a protein in epithelial cells. You can read the entire article here.  The researchers concluded that FLG null mutations represent a highly significant genetic risk factor for atopic dermatitis and also are the single most significant genetic risk for peanut allergy that has been identified to date.

The reason I am writing about this today is because I just read a post two days ago by a respected allergist that indicated that some food allergies may disappear as a child matures.  He specifically mentioned that this did not apply to peanut allergy. Could it be that the epithelial cells that line the digestive tract are the real culprit?

I’m not a doctor and I don’t have the answers. I do know that if you have peanut allergy or atopic dermatitis researchers are hard at work decoding the causes to find the cure.

Just something to think about….until next time!

Cross Reactivity – Change Your Diet in Pollen Season?

Most of the allergy-related articles you read in the spring time cover avoiding your exposure to those pesky pollens.I have written several posts myself about what to do to minimize your exposure and reduce your allergic reactions if you have seasonal allergy.

Once thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the phenomenon of cross reactivity or oral allergy syndrome.

This occurs when a person has been sensitized to proteins found in certain tree pollens that are very similar in structure those found in foods.

For example, the birch tree (a big pollen producer and the enemy of many a hay fever sufferer) produces a pollen called Bet v1 that is similar to plants in the apple, plum, and parsley family. Because the chemical structure of the protein in the pollen is so close to the structure found in the food, your body gets confused and thinks that juicy apple is a nose full of birch pollen.  For the botanically challenged, that means apples, pears, plums and prunes, peaches, apricots, cherries, almonds, carrot, celery, fennel, parsley, and parsnip may be seen by your immune system as birch trees.  The reaction is a result of cross reactivity, not a true allergic reaction to the food.

During the birch pollen season, you might want to reduce or eliminate your consumption of these in their raw state. In the case of oral allergy syndrome, you will want to eliminate them year-around.  The good news is that like all proteins, these cross reacting pan proteins can be denatured (or broke down).  Now that doesn’t mean that you can spray your food with ADMS Spray to denature the way you would with dust mite allergy.  What is does mean is that you can apply heat to break that protein down.  So, while a raw apple might cause symptoms, apple sauce, apple juice, or apple pie might not.  That is because the cooking process (whether stove top, oven or microwave) will raise the temperature of the food high enough to neutralize the pesky protein.

None of this is “new” news.  A study done back in 1998 and published in The Journal of Immunology determined that alder pollen was just as bad as birch pollen. It just doesn’t seem to get much attention, so I thought I would bring it up.

Do any of you have any problems with oral allergy syndrome or do your pollen allergies make it harder to eat certain foods?  I’d love to hear your stories and how you cope with it..

Til Next Time

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Allergies and How to Prepare for Summer Camp

School ended here in South Florida last week.  Parents and kids alike are starting to prepare for sleepaway camp. If you have a child with asthma or allergies, you need to know how to prepare for summer camp.

Prepare for Summer Camp -Food Allergies

Before your child leaves, make sure to speak with the director about any medications that will need to be administered. Also, if your child has food allergies, the time to discuss special diets is before you commit your camper and pay your fees.

Prepare for Summer Camp – Asthma

If your child is a seasoned camper, you have been through this routine before. Find out if they have a nebulizer on hand for emergencies or if you need to pack one.  Find out their Epi-Pen policy.  When out on a hike, who carries the Epi-Pen in case of an emergency insect sting? Critical if your child is allergic to bees or wasps.

Prepare for Summer Camp – Dust Mite Allergy

If your camper is required to bring their own bedding, you get an allergy-proofing break.

You can make sure that your camper is sleeping on sheets that you washed with De-Mite or Allergen Wash.  No matter who is providing the linen, be sure to send an inexpensive zippered allergy-proof cover for the mattress and pillow.

For campers, we recommend using either the SMS or vinyl.  You wouldn’t want to sleep on them every night as they are not the sturdiest (that is why we recommend them for the boxsprings) but for 1 to 4 weeks of sleeping at camp, they are perfect to use and then throw away.  Most camp beds are long twin, be sure to ask the camp in advance so you get the right size.

Don’t forget the sunscreen.  Read the label to make sure that there is no PABA, parabens, or vitamin A.  Same for the soap, shampoo, and conditioner.

While Your Camper is Away

While your little camper is away, take advantage of the time to do a good deep clean of their room.  Start at the top and work your way down, wiping down walls, furniture, doorjambs, window sills, and such.  Strip all the bedding and wash in De-Mite or Allergen Wash.  Clean the floors (including under the bed) and baseboards.  Don’t forget to clean any picture frames and wash the curtains.  Turn the air cleaner on high and close the door. Your little camper will return to a clean, fresh room.

When Your Camper Returns

Make sure that their bag and belongings stay in the garage until unpacked and inspected.  Bed bugs are tricky hitchhikers and you don’t want them coming home with your camper.

Summer camp is can be a great experience but…no matter how far you travel and how much fun you have…there is no place like home!

Til Next Time


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