Teens with food allergies may take risks

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: September 27th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Teenagers aren’t known for cautious behavior.

But you would expect teens with food allergies to avoid anything that could make them sick.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

Every year up to two-hundred Americans die from food-induced anaphylaxis [ann-uh-fuh-LAXX-iss], a severe allergic reaction that lowers blood pressure and impairs breathing.

Many of the victims are teenagers and young adults with diagnosed allergies.

A recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology helps explain why some of these deaths occur.

Researchers surveyed about one-hundred-seventy-five food allergy sufferers ages thirteen to twenty-one.

The participants answered questions about previous allergic reactions, management strategies and their attitudes about food allergy.

The results showed fifteen percent of the participants were at high risk for anaphylaxis. They were willing to eat food that might contain allergens, and didn’t always carry epinephrine [epp-ih-NEFF-rinn], an emergency medication for allergic reactions.

Compared with other participants, high-risk youths were more likely to report feeling different from other people.

The researchers concluded that more education is needed… and not just for allergy sufferers.

Two-thirds of younger participants, and half the older ones, wished their classmates were educated about food allergies.

Researchers believe this approach might reduce peer pressure and discourage teasing.

Considering that high-risk teens are often alienated and reckless, enlisting support from their friends seems like a great idea.

Every teenager wants to fit in with other kids, but in this case, feeling valued and understood could be a lifesaver literally.