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Web Extra: Debunking food allergy myths

Debunking food allergy myths (Photo: MGN Online)

Dr. David Stukus is an associate professor of pediatrics in the division of allergy and immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, and he spoke with FOX 45's Clancy Burke to help debunk some food allergy myths.

MYTH #1: Food allergy tests are 100 percent accurate.

Dr. Stukus: “These tests have high rates of false positive responses so there’s a lot of overuse of food allergy tests. There are a lot of people that don’t have allergies to foods that are being told to avoid those foods, or worse, remove them from their diet when they’re eating them without problems based on test results alone. The only way to know with certainty that you’re allergic to a particular food is to see if you have a reaction when you eat it."

MYTH #2: Food allergy tests can tell the severity of an allergy.

Dr. Stukus: “Another big misconception is the size of a food allergy test tells you how severe a reaction would be. That’s not the case at all. The size of the food allergy test only helps determine the likelihood someone’s allergic to it, but ultimately the story of what happens when you eat the food is the absolute most important part of trying to figure out who may or may not have a food allergy.”

MYTH #3: Parents can cause their children to have a food allergy.

Dr. Stukus: “Ultimately it’s important for all parents to understand there is absolutely nothing – and I want to repeat this – nothing a mother or parent can do that will cause their child to have a food allergy. Nothing mom ate when she was pregnant, not due to what mom ate when she was breastfeeding…There are a lot of parents out there that carry unnecessary guilt thinking there’s something they could’ve done to cause a food allergy.”

MYTH #4: Baby wipes cause food allergies - Recent headlines claimed baby wipes cause food allergies, a result of a study being misinterpreted.

Dr. Stukus: “This came about through a study done in mice. And these mice were bred to have a condition essentially like eczema in infants, which we know is a risk factor for having an allergy. And what researchers did was expose these mice to various things through the skin, including peanut and eggs, but also to chemical found in soap.

"What happened was, mice exposed both to the chemical found in soap, as well as foods, then had higher rates of having allergic reaction to peanuts. Well, the headlines then extrapolated this and said, ‘Baby wipes may cause food allergies.’ Why is that? Well, authors, in a way to translate research in a way people could understand, suggested that perhaps chemicals found in common household things, like baby wipes, may be related to increasing rates of food allergy.

"But there’s a problem with this. One, the study didn’t involve humans. Two, the study didn’t involve baby wipes. Three, you cannot take data found in mice and extrapolate that to humans.”

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