IRP Research Aims to Explain the Perils of Peanuts and Other Foods
If you are a parent of school-age children, you’ve probably received a list of prohibited lunch foods and bans on birthday cupcakes. Going out to eat or cooking for guests can present a similar minefield of ingredients that many people must avoid. If it seems like food allergies are on the rise, it’s not your imagination. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the prevalence of food allergies has increased by 50 percent since the 1990s, making it a serious public health concern.
This May, Food Allergy Awareness Week reminds parents, kids, teachers, food service workers — really all of us — that we must remain vigilant to the risks of reactions to certain foods. These allergies affect nearly 32 million Americans, including 1 in 13 kids. If you think about the average classroom, that could be two or three children with severe allergies in one room. For many, even a tiny amount of an allergen can trigger a serious, even life-threatening response by the body’s immune system. To address this growing concern, IRP senior investigator Pamela A. Guerrerio, M.D., Ph.D., and her colleagues in the Food Allergy Research Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are working to unravel how genetics, immune system development, and environmental factors interact to cause food allergies in children.