By Dr. Paul Ehrlich
Dr. John Weiner of AllergyNet in Melbourne, Australia responded with a Tweet about the Quest Diagnostics/Phadia report on the extent of allergies in the US, which we posted as a Guest Editorial, with the following:
“Data shows 30% of US children under 5 are sensitized to peanut. I presume true clinical allergy is much less?”
Thanks, Doctor, for bringing this up.
Yes, indeed. While the incidence of peanut allergies is growing, if 30% of children had true clinical allergy, we wouldn’t be having a debate in this country about peanuts in the schools, and companies like Smuckers and Planters would have to find other revenue streams. Sensitization and allergy are not the same. As the full report says, a clinical diagnosis is more involved than any test, and a thorough history by an allergist is a must. One of the traps physicians and parents fall into is to equate ambiguous test results with the nightmare of anaphylaxis. As we say in our book, feeding a child a nutritious diet is hard enough without excluding any food unnecessarily. So before you restrict foods, make sure your child really has an allergy.