Food Allergies an American Obsession?

- New Survey Finds Parents Don't Seek Medical Help -

Sep 21, 2006, 01:00 ET from The California Milk Processor Board

    BERKELEY, Calif., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Food allergies are
 increasingly top-of-mind for many Americans. In fact, one out of every
 three people in this country claim to have a food allergy of one kind or
 another.* But the science doesn't support these fears. Government and
 medical association estimates put the actual incident rate at only between
 one in 25 and one in 70.**
     (Photo: )
     Parents are one of the groups most concerned about food allergies,
 especially as kids go back to school and eat more meals away from home. In
 many cases, they're also ill-informed about the differences between
 allergies and intolerances, and the proper course of treatment for each. A
 new survey conducted among California parents last month reveals that many
 are self-diagnosing food allergies and eliminating nutrient-rich foods from
 their child's diet without seeing a doctor first.
     "Medical self-diagnosis is risky business," says Dr. Stuart Epstein,
 Beverly Hills Allergist, Associate Clinical Professor David Geffen UCLA
 School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Attending Allergist.
 "Without professional advice, suffering is almost always extended and
 important foods eliminated unnecessarily."
     And milk is often the "fall guy." In fact, nearly two-thirds (63%) of
 parents surveyed in this recent Omnibus Poll admitted to eliminating -- or
 limiting their children's intake -- of milk at the first sign of problems,
 believing dairy products to be at least partially responsible for their
     "Parents are sometimes quick to point the finger at cow's milk when
 their child comes down with unexplained symptoms like intestinal problems
 or allergic reactions," stresses Dr. Epstein. "Eliminating milk from your
 diet, especially a child's diet, without talking to your doctor first, is
 not a smart idea."
     In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement last
 week urging parents not to eliminate dairy foods from their children's diet
 for lactose intolerance reasons. Dairy foods like milk are an important
 source of calcium and other nutrients that facilitate growth during a
 critical bone building time.***
     Americans often confuse food allergies with food sensitivities or
 intolerances. An allergy is a specific condition that involves immune
 response, where as an intolerance -- like lactose intolerance -- is very
 rare among young people. Medical experts like Dr. Epstein recommend seeking
 medical attention at the first sign of a problem.
     From August 14th to 22nd Market Tools surveyed 551 California parents
 online to gauge food allergy and lactose intolerance awareness and milk
 allergies as a health concern for their children.
     Key Findings:
     -  Sixty-three percent (63%) of California parents eliminate milk from
        their child's diet at the first sign of a food-related health issue.
     -  Forty percent (40%) of parents do not consult a doctor before
        eliminating foods from their child's diet.
     About the CMPB
     The California Milk Processor Board was established in 1993 to make
 milk more competitive and increase milk consumption in California.
 Awareness of GOT MILK? is over 90% nationally and it is considered one of
 the most important and successful campaigns in history. GOT MILK? is a
 federally registered trademark that has been licensed by the national dairy
 boards since 1995. GOT MILK? gifts and recipes can be viewed at The CMPB is funded by all California milk
 processors and administered by the California Department of Food and
     *    National Institute of Health, Food Allergy Citation & Incidence
          Rates, pp 1-2,
     **   Paajanen L et al.  Cow milk not responsible for most gastrointestinal
          immune-like syndromes -- evidence from a population-based study.
          American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 82:1327-1235.
     ***  Heyman, Melvin B., M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, Lactose Intolerance in
          Infants, Children and Adolescents (Pediatrics, 2006;118:1279-1286).

SOURCE The California Milk Processor Board