I had a sick feeling in my stomach when I read the discussion on food allergies presented at the 69th annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology last week. Dr. Jon Hanfin discussed the link between eczema and food allergy. He said that people with atopic dermatitis, or eczema, make larger amounts of IgE than any other groups of patients.
IgE is what is tested when we do blood tests for food allergies. In other words, people with eczema are, of course, going to have high IgE levels, indicating they may, or may not, have a food allergy.
Dr. Hanfin went on to say that children with eczema may only have a sensitization to a food, but they are being treated as though it is a food allergy. This leads us back to the recent thought that "only a food challenge can confirm a food allergy".
The sick feeling in my stomach worsened as I read on to the part about "withholding foods may actually be causing more allergies". So, a parent takes her baby with eczema to the doctor. Allergy tests are conducted and show the baby to be allergic to a bunch of foods. The doctor says to avoid all of these foods or the baby could have a severe allergic reaction. The parent(s) re-arrange their lives to avoid the foods and later find out that this avoidance may have caused food allergies.
I know this is all new information, but this has been our lives for over 10 years. We've been fortunate to recently discover that some of the foods my child has avoided (like almonds, shrimp, baked milk and baked egg) do not cause a reaction. I'm grateful for that, but now I wonder if any of the foods we avoided were necessary to avoid.
These "new discoveries" can't come fast enough for me. I want this figured out!
Listen to a podcast about the session and read the discussion of the presentation. What do you think?