A welcome message to food-distressed parents appeared in the New York Times yesterday, dismissing the myth that food allergies in children are the rule, not the exception. It’s a topic worth investigating, what with school districts banning home-baked goods due to fears they may contain allergens or even meth.

A common blood test has been the norm for detecting antibodies that signal a reaction to a suspect allergen. But the medical world is now acknowledging that the proteins that cause the reaction may be in multiple foods that the child may or may not be allergic to, thus giving false results. The Times writes: “A child who is allergic to peanuts, for instance, might test positive for allergies to soy, green beans, peas, and kidney beans. Children with milk allergies may test positive for beef allergy.”

To make a complicated issue even more so, parents have been warned by their pediatricians to not feed their children certain foods such as eggs and nuts too early, some abstaining until the child is two or three years old. But now, says the Times, the “committee for the American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology is considering revised guidelines recommending earlier introduction of foods like eggs, peanuts, and shellfish … A 2008 study of 10,000 British children, reported in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that early exposure to peanuts lowered allergy risk.”

It would seem a child’s natural instinct to discover their world by putting everything in their mouth is not so bizarre after all.

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