Thursday, May 27, 2010

Food Allergies Less Common Than Thought, Study Discovers

Posted By on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 9:45 AM

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A few people are definitely allergic, but most people aren't. That's the finding of a study made public last week by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The news, reported in the New York Times, comes at a period of growing worry, especially among parents. But concern is widespread enough that now many dinner hosts quiz guests about potential allergies.

The study found that only 50 percent of those who tested positive in a skin test are actually allergic. It also debunked widely accepted ideas — such as the notion that breastfed babies develop fewer allergies, and that babies shouldn't be fed eggs for the first year of life — as unsupported by evidence.

One researcher noted that people confuse allergy with intolerance, such as lactose intolerance or sensitivity to spicy food. But an allergy involves specific antibodies — when they're not present, there's no allergy.

On the other hand, researchers noted that people seem to grow into and out of allergies, for reasons that aren't clear.

In short, if you think you're allergic to a food but aren't sure — or you just really miss it — it may be worth trying again.

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