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"It’s Bad Enough To Have a Food Allergy. But Then You Have To Deal With The Skepticism" - Lavanya Ramanathan

  • The Washington Post
  • New York, NY
  • (September 25, 2018)

Food allergies are a mystery that science is only just beginning to unravel. Eight food categories, including fish, shellfish, eggs, milk and peanuts, are now widely recognized as major allergens. But doctors also acknowledge milder reactions, like itchy mouths and swollen lips, to a host of other seemingly innocuous foods: Kiwi fruit. Hazelnuts. Carrots. Bananas. Watermelon. Some people have reported reactions to ingredients that have never been on any widely recognized allergen lists, including meat or mustard seed. Though every death is shocking, tallying the fatalities “is not a way to look at how impactful this is,” said Scott Sicherer, MD, chief of the division of allergy and immunology at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He’s deeply interested in food-allergy sufferers’ quality of life, and the psychic weight for families. “If you see a child who’s in a wheelchair, you would say, ‘Oh my gosh, this poor child is in a wheelchair.’ ” People with allergies don’t look sick, but they can experience the same kind of anxieties and challenges, Dr. Sicherer said. “Someone who is living with a food allergy has a quality of life similar to the child who’s in a wheelchair.”

- Scott Sicherer, MD, Professor, Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology, Chief, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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