A new study conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found that nearly 20 percent of children who have food allergies could also have a sensitivity to sesame.
The team explained that screening methods for sesame allergies can be inconclusive, but this study utilized a test for sesame antibodies in the blood, which proved to be effective.
“It has been a challenge for clinicians and parents to determine if a child is truly allergic to sesame,” said researcher Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. “Given how frequently sesame allergy occurs among children who are allergic to other foods, it is important to use caution to the extent possible when exposing these children to sesame.”
Monitoring food allergies
As part of the study, the researchers monitored 119 children who consumed increasing amounts of sesame to see if they were intolerant. The method deviated from traditional allergy tests, which usually involve pricking a finger and testing a blood sample.
All of the children involved in the study had another food allergy, but they did not show any sensitivity to sesame at the start of the study. Testing for a sesame allergy proved to be elusive for over 25 percent of the children, but the test revealed that 17 percent tested positive for a sesame allergy.
Because it can be hard to pin down this allergy, the researchers turned to a sesame-related antibody found in the blood to determine if certain levels would indicate whether or not a sesame allergy was present. Based on their findings, they predicted that children are 50 percent more likely to have a sesame allergy when they have more than 29.4 kilo international units of sesame-specific immunoglobulin E (sIgE) in their blood.
The researchers explained that more work needs to be done to confirm these findings, but their method currently offer an interesting way for healthcare professionals to determine a child’s sesame allergy status.
From a mental health standpoint, researchers found that food allergies can make kids feel different and isolated from their friends, and it’s important for school communities to use food allergies as an opportunity for all students to learn.
"Management of a potentially life-threatening condition may be anxiety provoking, and some children may experience increased social anxiety about being ‘different’ from other children depending on their age and how food allergy is managed by adults in a particular setting,” said researcher Dr. Renee Goodwin.