ACAAI Annual Meeting November 2013 —
KFA Medical Advisor, Dr. David Stukus, tackled common allergy myths at a workshop at the ACAAI annual meeting.
10 topics that are common offenders of misinformation:
- Egg Allergy and Flu Vaccine, MMR Vaccine
More than 25 studies have shown that the flu shot is safe for those with egg allergy, even a history of anaphylaxis to egg. The CDC still recommends that egg anaphylactic patients seek guidance from their allergist, but all other kids can be vaccinated without a trip to the allergist. The MMR vaccine does not require a referral to the allergist, either. Vaccine adverse reactions that occur are not always due to allergic reactions, and those that do could be due to other vaccine components (like gelatin).
- Penicillin Allergy
Delayed onset of symptoms (such as hives) is not necessarily an allergy and up to 90% of those labeled with penicillin allergy may not be allergic.
- Gluten Allergy
There is confusion between allergy (immediate hypersensitivity to wheat, not gluten), Celiac Disease, and non-Celiac gluten sensitivity.
- Allergy Testing and Age of Child
It is a myth that children must wait until age 2, 3, or 4 for allergy testing. According to Dr. Stukus, allergy testing is reliable as early as age 3 months.
- Allergy Tests
It is a common error to think that a positive allergy test indicates an allergy. Allergy tests alone (without history of symptoms) cannot diagnose patients. At-home screening tests are unreliable and lead to unnecessary dietary eliminations. Read more about allergy tests and diagnosis in this blog post from Dr. Stukus.
- Allergen Avoidance and Eczema
For about 2/3 of patients with eczema, an allergic cause will not be found. Avoiding allergens may not clear up and cure eczema. Allergies can be a contributor to eczema, but is not often the sole cause.
- Shellfish Allergy and Contrast Media
According to Dr. Stukus, there is no relationship between shellfish allergy and radiocontrast iodine dyes used in medical tests.
- Hypoallergenic Dogs and Cats
There is a common misconception that certain breeds of dogs or cats may be less allergenic than others. Dr. Stukus explains there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. What humans are allergic to is not the hair of the pet, but the dander (saliva, urine, skin).
- Artificial Food Colorings and Allergy
There is no compelling evidence that artificial dyes trigger hypersensitivity (IgE allergy).
- Highly Allergenic Foods Should Be Avoided Until Kids are 12 Months Old
There is no evidence to support this common thought. In fact, recent evidence shows early introduction to foods may prevent allergy.