Britain is undergoing an epidemic of food allergies in children, and no one knows why. But one doctor thinks he may have the answer
Gideon Lack peers into Jessie Martin's nostrils. 'I'm looking for my friend, the butterfly, who may have flown up your nose.' Entranced, she lifts up her head. Aged three, she is showing signs of a peanut allergy, and Lack needs to see if there are signs of other illnesses.
The paediatric allergy specialist can tell that the persistent colds that she's been suffering are, in fact, hay fever. As she is already thought to be asthmatic, it means her risk of a bad reaction to nuts is also high. Her mother only realised there was a problem on a recent holiday, when a friend gave Jessie a cashew nut. 'She started to be sick, and then spots appeared all over her face. She was gasping for breath, and it was bad, fairly scary.'
Britain is undergoing an epidemic of food allergies, and no one knows why. You can see it in the clinic in the Evelina Children's Hospital, which is part of St Thomas's in London, where patients who have waited for months, and in some cases for years, for a diagnosis finally reach one of the few specialists such as Professor Lack. This new unit opened just six months ago. Staff already have enough work for the rest of the year.
One in three of us will suffer some kind of allergy during our lifetime, but many food allergies begin in early childhood, typically between 18 to 24 months of age. They are particularly difficult to detect because often the symptoms are not specific: a bad cold, colic, tummy upset or a common skin rash. Nothing special will flag up the fact that your child has an allergy to egg, for example, but these are the signs - eczema, vomiting, irritability, tiredness.
Source - Guardian