Are food allergy concerns for our children exaggerated?

Food allergy concerns

Are food allergy concerns for our children exaggerated?

In 2006, child health experts Allan Colver, from the University of Newcastle, and Jonathan Hourihane, from University College York, went head to head to debate whether the dangers of food allergies in children were exaggerated.

Since 2006, childhood allergies have been on the rise. In 2018, around 7% of children had a food allergy. However, experts claim that food-allergy-related deaths are still rare. Food allergies are not the leading cause of death for people with them, so why all the concern?

Food for thought

Professor Colver said that we often think food allergies are more frightening and dangerous than pneumonia, asthma, or diabetes. However, ONS data shows that between 2012 and 2016, just five child deaths were traceable to food allergies. In fact, data shows that the leading cause of death in children is cancer, accounting for over 20% of childhood deaths.

Colver argued that increasing prescription of emergency prophylaxis to children fuels anxiety. This creates the perception that food allergies pose a greater risk to children than data suggests.

On the other hand

But Professor Hourihane argued that there’s no evidence to suggest that the prescription of prophylaxis medication increases anxiety and they’re an essential part of allergy management, helping to keep risk low in children with allergies. You could also blame the media for why some people believe the risk of food allergies to children is high.

News stories about this topic are becoming more common. There was 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a fatal reaction to a baguette from Pret a Manger. In 2018, a 13-year-old boy died after coming into contact with cheese at school. With the rise in social media, we’re not just limited to stories from the UK, but globally. This may make the incidents of allergy-related deaths in children seem more concerning. Especially when we look at the global population of children (around 1.9 billion).

From this, we could reasonably suggest that the fatal risk of food allergies to children is low. However, this is likely a result of the healthcare, education, and legislation put in place to protect children in the UK. Other countries may not follow the same laws or have the same level of healthcare available to vulnerable children. It’s why we still need to do our best to raise awareness of the dangers of food allergies in children.

If you’re worried that your child suffers from an allergy, get in touch with the experts at London Allergy and Immunology Centre on 020 314 334 49. We can test for over 100 allergies at a time and provide the best treatment for them, so don’t wait.

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