Breaking News
October 17, 2018 - Network of doctors identify the cause of 31 new conditions
October 17, 2018 - Notable improvement in brain cancer survival among younger patients but not much for elderly
October 17, 2018 - Scientists shed light on roles of transcription factors, TP63 and SOX2, in squamous cell carcinoma
October 17, 2018 - Costs of Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program may be higher than expected reimbursement
October 17, 2018 - Misuse of prescription opioids or benzodiazepines associated with suicidal thoughts
October 17, 2018 - C-Section Rates Have Nearly Doubled Since 2000: Study
October 17, 2018 - Talking to Your Kids About STDs
October 17, 2018 - New classification of periodontal and peri-implant diseases and conditions
October 17, 2018 - Herbert D. Kleber, Pioneer in Addiction Treatment, Dies at 84
October 17, 2018 - Health effects of smoke-filled atmosphere
October 17, 2018 - Down syndrome may hold important clues to onset of Alzheimer’s disease
October 17, 2018 - A special report on US’ aging societies
October 17, 2018 - Birth mode may have acute effects on neurodevelopment, study suggests
October 17, 2018 - Global health innovation system fails to deliver affordable treatments to patients, says report
October 17, 2018 - Simple, inexpensive test quickly detects antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’
October 17, 2018 - New drugs could reduce risk of heart disease when added to statins
October 17, 2018 - Visible and valued: Stanford Medicine’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Forum
October 17, 2018 - HVP vaccination not linked with rise in teen risky sex
October 17, 2018 - Potential ‘early warning markers’ for sepsis discovered
October 17, 2018 - Who knew? Life begins (again) at 65
October 17, 2018 - Application of blood pressure guidelines ups treatment
October 17, 2018 - Stanford researchers find that small molecule may help treat enzyme deficiency
October 17, 2018 - Speed Cameras Save Money and Lives in New York City
October 17, 2018 - Men who conform to ‘the man box’ more likely to consider suicide and violence
October 17, 2018 - Researchers aim to create more authentic organoids for drug testing, transplantation
October 16, 2018 - New blood test for pediatric brain tumor patients offers safer approach than surgical biopsies
October 16, 2018 - Age-related estrogen increase may be the culprit behind inguinal hernias in men
October 16, 2018 - Skills-Based Intervention Did Not Cut Systolic BP After Stroke, TIA
October 16, 2018 - Researchers uncover new role of TIP60 protein in controlling tumour formation
October 16, 2018 - Behind the scenes of a lifesaving heart surgery
October 16, 2018 - ‘To See the Suffering’
October 16, 2018 - Drinking concentrated rosemary extract can boost memory by up to 15%, shows research
October 16, 2018 - Medicare Advantage riding high as new insurers flock to sell to seniors
October 16, 2018 - NHS tackles prescription fraud to save millions
October 16, 2018 - New molecular switch may help develop sophisticated photomedications
October 16, 2018 - Improving access to behavioral health screenings for pregnant and postpartum women
October 16, 2018 - Health Highlights: Oct. 12, 2018
October 16, 2018 - Study holds promise for new pediatric brain tumor treatment
October 16, 2018 - Patient advocate uses MRI scans to create art and spark conversations about life with illness
October 16, 2018 - Fish oil based diets may suppress growth and spread of breast cancer cells
October 16, 2018 - Number of VHA facilities offering acupuncture has increased rapidly
October 16, 2018 - Influential Leapfrog Group jumps in to rate 5,600 surgery centers
October 16, 2018 - HIV-infected infants more likely to acquire congenital cytomegalovirus infection
October 16, 2018 - Study pinpoints new marker that can predict Crohn’s disease subtype
October 16, 2018 - Simple procedure could be efficacious intervention for failed back surgery
October 16, 2018 - New research identifies modifiable dementia risk factor in elderly people
October 16, 2018 - Zebrafish study uncovers molecular ‘brake’ that helps control eye lens development
October 16, 2018 - Overlapping copy number variations underlie autism and schizophrenia in Japanese patients
October 16, 2018 - Early menopause and diabetes may reduce life expectancy
October 16, 2018 - Majority of Americans’ ancestry can be traced through existing DNA databases
October 16, 2018 - Patients coerced into mental health care less likely to perceive treatment as effective
October 16, 2018 - Healthy elders can consume walnuts without having negative impact on weight gain, finds study
October 16, 2018 - Interactive robot helps older people exercise and detects underlying health problems
October 16, 2018 - What you need to know about autism spectrum disorder
October 16, 2018 - Antidepressants can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease
October 16, 2018 - Study uncovers important role of PRMT1 in dilated cardiomyopathy
October 16, 2018 - Nutritional quality of breakfast linked to cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors in children
October 16, 2018 - Study uses novel approach to investigate genetic origins of mental illnesses
October 16, 2018 - Scientists develop dual anthrax-plague vaccine
October 16, 2018 - Poor Outcomes for Hispanic Infants With Congenital Heart Dz
October 16, 2018 - Global study finds youngest in class more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD
October 16, 2018 - Researchers sequence two selfish genes in the fungus Neurospora intermedia
October 16, 2018 - Survey results highlight the need for better communication between patients and HCPs about bacterial vaginosis
October 16, 2018 - Researchers develop fibrin-targeting immunotherapy to protect against neurodegeneration
October 16, 2018 - Researchers create open access database on healthy immunity
October 16, 2018 - Rice University chemist wins big award to study small surfaces
October 16, 2018 - Study finds 43% drop in stroke rate
October 16, 2018 - Researchers identify basic relationships of cell cycle and cellular senescence in the placenta
October 16, 2018 - UA professor receives NSF grant to develop antifouling materials for medical implants
October 16, 2018 - Obesity Doubles Odds for Colon Cancer in Younger Women
October 16, 2018 - Adults with ADHD not constrained in creativity
October 16, 2018 - Raising visibility for people and students with chronic illness and disability
October 16, 2018 - Allele awarded NIH grant to develop nanoantibody therapies for treatment of sepsis
October 16, 2018 - Only 59% of young adults undergoing surgery are fluid responsive
October 16, 2018 - Research points to potential new treatment for hearing loss
October 16, 2018 - MDI Biological Laboratory receives $1.2 million SEPA grant to promote data literacy
October 16, 2018 - Vast majority of dementia cases may arise from spontaneous genetic errors
October 16, 2018 - New project aims to deliver fast, effective treatment for autoimmune rheumatic diseases
October 16, 2018 - Study identifies molecular switch that controls fate of milk-producing breast cells
October 16, 2018 - Research shows diet has little influence on precursor to gout
Got food allergies? Add milk to the worries for your meal

Got food allergies? Add milk to the worries for your meal

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

She controlled the symptoms by switching his baby formula. But when he was 1, Halloween proved horrifying. While trick-or-treating in a pumpkin costume, Matt grabbed a chocolate bar and bit through the wrapper. Although he spit out the candy, his violent allergic reaction morphed into a mess of hives, swelling and labored breathing. He ended up in the emergency room.

That was 26 years ago, but Mitchell vividly recalls the fear of that night — and of raising a child with a condition for which there was little information.

“It was really a scary time to have a child with a food allergy,” she said.

To this day, Matt is extremely careful about his diet. He carries an EpiPen to thwart a severe attack if he inadvertently eats a milk product.

New research on food allergies finds that milk allergies pose not only a medical, but also a financial burden for families.

In fact, the condition registered the highest average number of services per patient of any food allergy in 2016 — outpacing even the widely publicized allergies to peanuts and shellfish, according to the analysis by Fair Health, a nonprofit that manages a database of private insurance claims and provides cost information to the health care industry and consumers.

Still, the study found that peanuts outranked all other single food allergens in causing severe and sometimes fatal reactions known as anaphylaxis. Peanut allergies accounted for a quarter of medical services given to treat anaphylaxis from 2007 to 2016. Anaphylactic reactions to milk products represented just 5 percent.

The data add to the mounting evidence that the number of people living with a food allergy is on the rise. From 2007 to 2016, medical services related to food allergies listed on private health insurance claims increased by 76 percent, said Dean Sicoli, executive director of communications for Fair Health.

BJ Lanser, director of the pediatric food allergy program at National Jewish Health in Denver, said the causes of those allergies aren’t limited to certain headline-grabbing foods.

While peanuts pose a potentially life-threatening risk for some people, he said, other food allergies can also lead to a lifetime of physical and financial stress.

“We can’t just think about peanuts. We have to think about the other major food allergens,” he said. “This is a disease that carries a significant cost burden.”

Among the findings from the report:

  • The rise in food allergies varied by locale. From 2007 to 2016, the number of services and procedures for those allergies increased by 70 percent in urban settings and more than doubled in rural areas.
  • For children, food allergy claims were more common among boys than girls, but among adults the opposite was true.
  • The effects of allergens also varied by gender. Women and girls were most commonly treated for food additive allergies, but peanuts were the top category for men and boys.
  • Food allergies are typically associated with children, but 34 percent of procedures and services involved a patient older than 18 years.

The report also looked at the costs of treating anaphylactic reactions in food allergies. The number of treatments for these life-threatening occurrences rose 377 percent from 2007 to 2016. But surprisingly, 7 in 10 services were handled in physicians’ offices, while 13 percent were in outpatient facilities (which could include hospital emergency departments). Two percent were specifically labeled as emergency room treatment.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, more than 90 percent of food allergies are linked to eight foods: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. Milk sensitivities can vary, ranging from a severe allergy like Matt Mitchell’s to an intolerance that causes gastric distress but is not technically a medical allergy.

The Fair Health report found that a peanut allergy is less financially menacing than other foods. Services and treatments related to a peanut allergy averaged $236.73 per patient in 2016. That was a quarter of the cost for a milk product allergy, which averaged $1,043.89 per patient in the same year.

Lanser said the high cost of treating milk allergies is likely related to the high price of milk substitutes, particularly alternative baby formulas. Neither the researchers nor the experts, however, could explain the wide variation in the cost of treating anaphylaxis among food allergies.

Robin Gelburd, president of Fair Health, said the report aims to identify trends in food allergies that could inspire other studies and discoveries. “We never want our data study to be the end of a conversation,” Gelburd said. “Rather, we would want it to be the beginning of a conversation that adds greater understanding to an area.”

Today, Lynda Mitchell is acting chief executive officer of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a patient advocacy group for people with asthma and allergies. True to tradition, with her son in mind, she intends to prepare Thanksgiving dinner without milk. She will search for a turkey that has not been injected with a solution that could have a milk base. She will make mashed potatoes with chicken stock and margarine but no milk or cream. And she will make her dairy-free pumpkin pie.

“As a parent of a child with a food allergy — especially a young child — you just always have to be surveying the landscape and having that vision going in your head about whether this is going to be a high-risk situation or not,” she said. “And it’s worth it. But it’s just something that parents of children that have food allergies have to do every day.”

KHN’s coverage of children’s health care issues is supported in part by the Heising-Simons Foundation.


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles