Need for better allergy research

Allergies are becoming more common and more complicated but researchers are at a loss to explain why

An Australian study has found that more than 10 per cent of oneyearolds have a proven food allergy and in the past 10 years anaphylaxis had increased more than 350 per cent

Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction It often affects several parts of the body including the respiratory system and cardiovascular system and can only be treated with adrenaline

Allergy NZ says its likely New Zealands rate of increase is in line with Australias

quotThere has been little research in New Zealand so we can only estimate prevalence including any increase on overseas studies in similar populations and on anecdotal informationquot Allergy NZ chief executive Penny Jorgensen said

quotOn this basis it is likely the prevalence of food allergy has at least doubled in the last decade in New Zealandquot

Jorgensen said the increasing complexity of allergies was also a major concern

She said there were more children with food as well as environmental allergies quotwhich increases the risk of severe reaction and exacerbates symptoms such as eczemaquot

Many schools had systems in place to protect children from allergies but Jorgensen said it was impossible for carers and educators to keep up to date without solid research

quotResearch is badly needed to determine the extent food allergies impacts on people and how best to help themquot said Jorgensen

quotAt the moment most of the burden is unseen because it falls on patients and their familiesquot

She said even diagnosing allergies was difficult in New Zealand due to limited resources so the full extent was not really known

The NZ Paediatric Society was expected to issue a consensus statement on the diagnosis and management of food allergy in NZ children this year

Paediatric Immunologist and Allergy Specialist at Starship Childrens Hospital Jan Sinclair said complications with allergies were getting harder to deal with

quotWe are seeing more children with food allergies that persist into adolescence and more children with multiple allergies or allergy to unusual combinations of foods The management of these problems is made more difficult by their relatively recent increase

quotTherefore many centers do not have well established services to meet the needs of these children and their

Date : 17 May, 2012
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