Food Allergies in Children

For July 31, 2019                      Please share with your friends and neighbors.

Hi WN@TL Fans,

When I was three and four I had a series of nasty ear aches.  As was common at the time, I had my tonsils out.  Earregardless, I still came down with otalgia. My Uncle Don, who had also become my doctor, eventually prescribed a cherry-flavored elixir which helped the pain—but I broke out in a nasty rash.  

The rash led to a battery of allergy tests:  a nurse made a well-ordered array of light scratches on my back, and onto each scratch she delivered a drop of a known allergen. After a day or two, she read my back. It was my first medical publication. 

Apparently I was allergic to several things in addition to the cherry flavoring.  I remember being perplexed that I was deemed allergic to cucumber.  I raised cucumbers and I ate pickles.  But, the skin does not lie.

Next began a series of allergy shots, at first weekly, then gradually shifting to monthly.  I got used to needles.  I didn’t get used to having to linger in the clinic waiting room for 30 minutes after the shot.  Anaphylaxis could hardly be worse to a boy of 8 than the eternity of a perfectly splendid half hour holed up in a den of contagion.

After a few years, I got weaned off the shots.  I never broke out again, never had a whiff of a severe reaction, I don’t even suffer from hay fever. 

When my kids were going through their toddler and early school years, I watched for hints of food allergies.  None arose.  My son has it bad for some types of dogs, but a well-timed Claritin suffices.  

However, he has a cousin who carries an epipen.  We clear the kitchen of peanut butter when the cousin comes for a visit. It’s sobering to think what a crapshoot food allergies can be.  A harrowing crapshoot, and an immunological mystery, at least to me.   

This week (July 31) Anne Marie Singh of the Department of Pediatrics will share her insights into the nature and management of food allergies in children.  

Here’s how she describes her talk:

Food allergy results from an aberrant IgE-mediated immune response that can make even trace exposures to a food life-threatening. Living with a food allergy significantly affects quality of life, food purchasing and dietary habits. It affects over 32 million Americans, and the number of children affected has increased by 50% from 1997-2011. Additionally, food allergy has a massive and growing economic impact in the US, with an increase in cost from $0.5 billion to $25 billion from 2007 to 2012. The purpose of this talk is to provide clinical and research updates regarding food allergy.

Clinical insights in food allergy, including what is food allergy, how it is diagnosed and clinical care will be covered. Additionally, the latest findings on the “food allergy epidemic”, infant feeding practices, and emerging therapies will be discussed. The new University of Wisconsin Food Allergy Research and Education Center of Excellence will also be presented. Finally, Dr. Singh’s research program will be presented, including discoveries regarding mechanistic studies on food allergy, and how environmental exposures affect disease pathogenesis.


About the Speaker:

Anne Marie Singh, MD, is the Director of the Food Allergy Research and Education Center of Excellence, Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology and Food Research Institute Affiliate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Dr. Singh completed her allergy-immunology fellowship and post-doctural training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then was a faculty member at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine for 8 years. She then returned to the University of Wisconsin. 

She is a recognized leader in pediatric food allergy and early allergic diseases. Her research program is focused on advancing the clinical care of patients with food allergy, as well as mechanistic studies on how environmental and microbial exposures affect mechanisms of tolerance. The goal of her work is to enhance the clinical care of atopic patients by both advancing clinical care and by understanding mechanisms of disease. Therefore, she performs translational and clinical studies to better understand food allergy, atopic dermatitis and early life wheezing.


Next week (August 7) Matthew Brown of the Humanized Mouse Core Service at the School of Medicine & Public Health will be here to tell the tail of how mice with humanized immune systems help speed research in organ transplantation and enable investigations at the intersection of pluripotent stem cell biology & immunology.

Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Thanks again!


Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension