[NAFEX] Children develop allergy to favourite fruit (Glasgow, Scotland, Sunday Herald)
Sam.Brungardt at state.mn.us
Mon Jun 28 13:32:36 EDT 2004
(Glasgow, Scotland) Sunday Herald - 27 June 2004
Children develop allergy to favourite fruit
By Jenifer Johnston
Scientists have found that large numbers of children are developing severe allergies to kiwifruit .
Researchers from the University of Southampton studied 273 adults and children suspected of having an allergy to the popular fruit, with 45 subjects undergoing testing. Until now little has been known about the numbers of people allergic to the fruit.
One in five subjects suffered severe symptoms including collapse, wheezing and vomiting. Researchers found that 40% of cases occurred in children, a pattern not found with other frequently allergenic foods, such as dairy foods or peanuts.
Almost all (90%) of the children under six in the study had an underlying condition such as hayfever, eczema or asthma, and 60% reported having a peanut allergy.
Kiwifruit is increasingly popular in the UK. More than £21 million worth of the fruit, some 31,000 tonnes, is sold in the UK each year.
Dr Jane Lucas, a paediatrician and clinical research fellow at Southampton University, told the Sunday Herald that her research showed young people to be most at risk.
"I noticed a huge rise in the number of children arriving at our allergy clinic with a kiwi fruit allergy, and there was very little research being done in that area, which I hope our study starts to remedy.
"As more people try kiwifruit and it becomes more available, the numbers of sufferers will rise. As with peanut allergies, there is no known treatment available at the moment."
Her case studies included a four-month-old baby who had to be resuscitated after just a tiny taste of the fruit.
Lucas said: "We urgently need more research in this area, as we still do not understand why the adverse reaction to kiwifruit affects children so much more than adults."
She said it was unlikely that supermarkets would introduce "contains kiwifruit" labelling as, unlike nuts, kiwifruit are used in only a small range of foods.
The study was sponsored by the Food Standards Agency, whose spokeswoman said: "Allergy to kiwifruit is becoming more common, but the nutritional benefits of consuming kiwifruit are considered to be greater than the possibility of developing an allergy to it. The research was commissioned to investigate the characteristics and development of kiwifruit all ergy."
Further studies into the effects are understood to be in the pipeline.
The spokeswoman warned that parents should be cautious: "If your child has other allergies, or if there is a family history of allergies, we advise that you do not feed them kiwifruit before they are six months old."
Kiwifruit were introduced into the UK in the 1960s and have enjoyed a swift rise in popularity - surveys of children regularly place the fruit in their top 10 favourite healthy snacks.
David Redding of the Anaphylaxis Campaign said a huge majority of those registered with the charity who had problems with kiwifruit are children.
"Of the 367 members registered with us who have a kiwifruit allergy, 295 are under 18. The symptoms of kiwifruit allergy can be varied - they commonly include tingling in the mouth and sore lips, rising to wheezing and rashes. Extreme sufferers may suffer an anaphylactic reaction, collapse and go into shock."
Curiously, kiwifruit proteins have the same composition as the raw Malaysian rubber used to make latex gloves, balloons and condoms, and those allergic to either kiwifruit or latex experience similar reactions.
Dr Ann Clarke of the Latex Allergy Support Group said: "Problems are on the increase - all in all around 1% of the population are allergic to this protein, and there is really not enough awareness of the dangers."
The magazine Allergy recently featured the story of Kristjan, nine, who almost died after eating kiwifruit. At the age of five he ate the fruit for the first time and needed antihistamines to recover from severe swelling to his face. On the second occasion he ate food that had come into contact with a knife used to cut a kiwifruit. He was rushed to hospital and treated with adrenaline .
In April this year it was revealed that over 18 million people in the UK suffer from allergies, costing the NHS £1 billion a year. The study by Glasgow and Edinburgh universities found that 39% of British children suffer from one or more allergies. The cash cost did not include costs of lost work days, over-the-counter medication and alternative therapies.
Copyright © 2004 smg sunday newspapers ltd. no.176088
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