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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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September 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 6)

Sesame is an unsuspected food allergy in children
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Sesame is an unsuspected food allergy in children image

Around one in five children are allergic to sesame. Although they're usually seen as a healthy snack or seasoning, sesame seeds are one of the top 10 allergens for children.

It's often an unsuspected allergy, with other foods being blamed for serious reactions—but when researchers tested 119 allergic children, they discovered that it was the culprit in 17 per cent of cases.

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reckon that around 1.1 million Americans have a sesame allergy, and only around 30 percent of children ever outgrow it.

The allergy has always been controversial, not helped by worries that the tests were inaccurate—but the researchers reckon the various tests can be reliable.

The researchers gave the children with a food allergy the standard 'oral food challenge' where they eat increasing amounts of sesame to see if there's an allergic reaction. After there was some reaction, the researchers used the allergen-specific antibody test to determine whether sesame was to blame.

It's always been "a challenge" to establish a sesame allergy, said lead researcher Anthony S Fauci, but the antibody test is reliable and accurate.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering whether to include sesame as an allergen on food labelling.


(Source: Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 2019; doi: 10.1111/pai.13143)

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