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Avoiding the Big 8

Robert M. Cohen, M.D.

With food allergies rising at an alarming rate, feeding your kids isn’t as simple as it used to be. Here, which foods are the biggest culprits, which symptoms require emergency care, plus revolutionary research that is changing the way we approach this condition (hint: peanuts may be the perfect baby food).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In the middle of the night in Israel, I got a frantic call from my daughter in Chicago. “Daddy, I’m so sorry to wake you, but Menachem just ate a little piece of cashew and now his face is swollen and he’s breaking out in a rash all over his body.”

Once I realized that her voice wasn’t just part of some bad dream, I gave my doctor’s orders: “Give him Benadryl and take him to the emergency room immediately!”

As a board-certified allergist for twenty-five years, I recognized that my grandson was having a potentially serious allergic reaction and that his symptoms could get worse — much worse. Fortunately, by the time they arrived at the hospital, the swelling had subsided and his hives had resolved. 

Even though my grandson’s diagnosis was easy to make, food allergies can be one of the most frustrating and complex allergy issues facing physicians, patients, and families. If you consider the unlimited number of foods and additives we consume today, the variable time between ingestion and allergic reaction, and the varied and often-subtle symptoms, it seems miraculous when an allergy-triggering food is actually identified. 

 

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