More New Zealand children will be at risk from developing food allergies unless preventative strategies are put in place immediately says an international expert.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of food allergies in the world.
The number of infants being diagnosed with food allergy and early on-set eczema is on the rise, says visiting Paediatric Gastroenterologist and Allergist Dr Ralf Heine. Heine, Senior Staff Specialist at the Department of Allergy and Immunology at the Royal Children’s Hospital, University of Melbourne, is in New Zealand to present new research to GPs and paediatricians in a series of seminars throughout the country. Heine says a recent study shows a large proportion of infants suffering from atopic eczema of moderate severity suffer from allergies to foods, including cow’s milk, egg or peanuts. Many of these infants were sensitised to more than one food item. Eczema in infancy is closely associated with food allergies, he says. More than 60 percent of moderate to severe eczema in infants under six months is due to food allergy*. However, food allergies in infants are often not recognised. Dietary treatment has become an integral part of the treatment of eczema in infants, says Heine.
*Ref: Hill DJ et al., Clinical and Experimental Allergy 2008; 38: 161-168