26 Feb Sesame Allergies More Common and Severe Than Recognized
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ruchi Gupta MD MPH
Mary Ann & J Milburn Smith Senior Scientist in Child Health Research
Director, Science & Outcomes of Allergy & Asthma Research
Professor of Pediatrics & Medicine
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Institute for Public Health and Medicine
Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine
Christopher M. Warren, PhD
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Readers may be familiar with the so-called “top 8” food allergens (i.e. peanut, tree nut, cow’s milk, fin fish, shellfish, egg, wheat and soy), which are responsible for the majority of food allergies in the US. However, in recent years increasing attention has been paid to sesame allergy, which evidence suggests can lead to anaphylaxis, frequently results in accidental exposure among affected patients, and is infrequently outgrown. Until now, only one 2010 study has systematically assessed the prevalence of sesame among both US children and adults. It concluded that sesame allergies were reported by approximately .1% of the US population.
However, this study, which surveyed a sample of approximately 5000 US households only captured 13 individuals with reported sesame allergy, which limited the authors’ ability to draw more detailed conclusions about the specific characteristics of sesame allergy in the United States.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our survey of over 50,000 US households, which captured nearly 500 cases of sesame allergy, estimated that that sesame allergy is comparably prevalent among US children AND adults, affecting over .2% of the US population. This translates to at least 750,000 Americans. These individuals not only reported a sesame allergy, but also reporting a history of allergic reactions to sesame with symptoms that are consistent with an IgE-mediated allergy. Our data also suggest that children and adults with sesame allergy frequently have other food allergies –particularly peanut (which affects 1 in two sesame-allergic patients) and tree nut allergies (which affect 1 in 3 sesame-allergic patients). Also approximately 1 in 4 adults with a sesame allergy reported their first reaction during adulthood, so people should be aware that these allergies can develop at any age.
Our data also suggest that sesame allergies are likely to affect US children and adults of all races/ethnicities, income strata, sexes and geographic regions.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: These data suggest that in the US, sesame allergies may be comparably prevalent and serious as other allergies for which allergen labeling is currently required by the FDA (i.e. pine nut, macadamia nut). Unlike in countries like Canada, Europe, and Australia, it is not currently required that sesame be labeled on food packages when it is included as an ingredient.
Furthermore, these data indicate that both children and adults with sesame allergy report severe sesame-allergic reaction symptomatology, epinephrine auto-injector use, and food allergy-related emergency department visits at comparable rates to patients with the other top 8 food allergies.
Epidemiology of Sesame Allergy in the United States
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