A recent telephonic survey was performed in Argentina questioning adults about food allergy. From the data received, it is estimated that approximately one million argentines over the age of 18 have food allergies. Further more, another million suspect that they have some sort of this allergy. This would indicate that more than 5 % of the population presents some symtoms related to the intake of different foods. It is estimated that in children this prevalence is higher, and that over a 6 % of children under the age of 2 have some type of food allergy.
Though virtually any food can produce allergy, it is known that eight foods are responsible for over a 90 % of adverse reactions. These are: milk, eggs, wheat, soya beans, peanuts, nuts from trees, fish and shellfish. It is very important for this information to be widely known, as it could prevent accidental intake, and it could help avoid the purchase of products containing these potential allergens if adequate legislation obliged the pertinent information to be displayed on the packaging.
The symptoms induced by this type of allergy are very varied, and include: colicky abdominal pains, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal allergy (runny nose), asthma, eczema and hives (urticaria). The diagnosis can be very difficult as many of the laboratory tests and of the skin “prick” tests can be inconclusive. Frequently the physician must recur to a controlled provocation test to arrive at an exact diagnosis. This test has been performed successfully at the British Hospital for the past 8 years, which has become a referral center for the diagnosis and treatment of food allergies.
We have created a space on the Internet, which can be accessed at www.alergialimentaria.org so as to clarify and help our patients in their treatments. An e-mail distribution list is included so that patients or their parents can share information. It is accessed frequently from Spain and the rest of Latin America, and the translation of the Webpage into English is ongoing.
Dr. C. Martín Bozzola
Translation: Dr. J. Emery