Expert warns of food allergy ‘generation’
source : canberra times
Australia is facing an allergy epidemic, an ACT allergy specialist has warned.
According to allergy specialist Dr Raymond Mullins, his study issued today reveals the incidence of peanut allergy has more than doubled since 1995.
He estimates up to 5 per cent of children in Canberra have a food allergy and 2 to 3 per cent are allergic to peanuts.
While the ACT was the area studied, Dr Mullins said the findings could be generalised for the whole of Australia.
Considered one of the most dangerous allergies, peanut allergy accounts for a number of deaths each year from anaphylactic reactions, with teenagers and adults the victims.
”We’re going to have an allergy generation coming through,” Dr Mullins said.
”Similar to the US and UK, peanut allergy is becoming more common in Australian children and poses a public health issue with increased demand for medical resources.
”Peanut allergy is the most prominent and has the worse reputation because it hangs around for 20 years, while other allergies tend to go away.
”If the incidence is doubling, then the rates of death in 10 years are likely to increase.”
As an experienced clinical immunology and allergy physician, Dr Mullins said 15 years ago he had see one or two cases of food allergy a month, but nowadays he treated at least one patient a day for the affliction.
One in five Australians currently have some type of food allergy, but this figure is expected to rise to one in four by 2050.
Despite this, Dr Mullins said the Government paid the looming problem little attention.
”This costs Australia about $21billion a year, taking into account things like time off work, but food allergies are not even on the health department radar and there’s little money or research on it,” he said.
”It’s a developing epidemic which will be with us forever and the cost may double as it becomes more prevalent.
”Generation A, ‘the allergic generation’ has already been born. This is a public health issue, one that has been ignored for years and just like anything, if you invest money in research and it will pay dividends for years to come.”
No one knows for sure what causes the allergies but Dr Mullins believes it has got ”something to do with Western living”.
”Waiting lists have blown out.
”If we don’t invest time and research into identifying avoidable causes, in the long term we’re going to pay a price and give rise to an allergy generation. We will bear the cost financially and personally
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