Friday, May 14, 2010


Food allergens pose serious life threatening risks amongst a significant segment of the population in many countries and early detection can save precious lives. While such allergies are on the rise in western countries, no reliable data exist in most of the developing countries including India. Statistics on population affected by food allergy are neither accurate nor reliable since such data compilation is far and few in many countries. Probably traditional eating habits and lesser consumption of processed foods in the developing countries might be giving the impression that food allergies are far and few in these countries. No one knows for real the ground reality regarding the extent of such incidences prevailing in many developing countries. There is even a view orchestrated recently that the projected figures for food allergic population is exaggerated and the very methodologies now in use to detect allergies are not fool proof, calling for more studies in this area.

"The articles looked at allergies to cow's milk, hen's eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, which account for more than 50 percent of all food allergies. The review authors found that food allergies affect between 1 percent and 10 percent of the U.S. population, but it's not clear whether the prevalence of food allergies is increasing. While food challenges, skin-prick testing and blood-serum testing for IgE antibodies to specific foods (immunoglobulin E allergy testing) all have a role to play in diagnosing food allergies, no one test has sufficient ease of use or sensitivity or specificity to be recommended over other tests, Dr. Jennifer J. Schneider Chafen, of the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System and Stanford University School of Medicine, and colleagues, said in a news release. Elimination diets are a mainstay of food allergy therapy, but the researchers identified only one randomized controlled trial (RCT) — the gold-standard of evidence — of an elimination diet".

One of the reasons for lack of reliable information on food allergies could be the overwhelming incidence of infectious and other diseases that occur amongst the population in developing countries, especially those who inhabit the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Probably this has deflected any attention on food allergy cases, considered far and few in these countries. It is for consideration whether under the "unique identification number" project of GOI, information on food allergies can also be included amongst the personal details of each citizen.


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