Concerted efforts to curb food allergy need of the hour

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 01 Januari 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A recent scientific conference in Hyderabad emphasized the need for the country to be better equipped clinically and diagnostically to deal with the emerging problem of food allergies. Experts called for a holistic approach to understand and treat food allergy that many believe is affecting more and more people.

The World Allergy Organisation International Scientific Conference held under the aegis of the union health ministry highlighted the need for high-quality allergen extracts and allergen-specific IgE tests for Indian foods as well as celiac reagents/tests. Many felt there was also a need to train of pediatricians, allergists and other clinicians to help decipher the problem better. Allergic diseases, including asthma, are escalating to epidemic proportions worldwide. It is believed that up to 30-40% of the world's population is now affected by some form of allergy.

More importantly, experts spoke about the need for additional data and labeling policies on food products. This is to help the consumer and exporters of Indian food and packaged products to understand the contents and take informed decisions. It may be noted that many private laboratories in Mumbai have started offering advanced tests to check allergies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 300 million individuals have asthma worldwide. The complexity and severity of allergic disorders, including asthma, continue to increase especially in children and young adults. "As the prevalence of allergic disease and asthma rises in countries around the world especially among children regardless of their economic status, so do the socio-economic costs both direct such as interference with breathing during day or night, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations, and indirect such as reduced quality of life, reduced work productivity and absenteeism," said professor Ruby Pawankar, president of the World Allergy Organization.

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