Can children with allergies to fish eat flakes?


Epworth HealthCare’s Center for Pediatric Allergies is conducting a study to determine whether people with severe allergies to fish can eat flakes. James Cook University in Townsville will also be involved in the study.

This study and the work of the Center are funded in partnership between the Australian Food Allergy Foundation and the Epworth Medical Foundation.

Fish allergy is one of the eight most common causes of food allergy in children. Unlike cow’s milk, wheat, and egg allergies, fish allergies tend to persist throughout life.

The study’s principal investigator, Dr Sam Mehr, said there are anecdotal reports of children allergic to bony fish that are able to tolerate flakes (gummy shark) which is a cartilaginous fish.

“Often, children with allergies to fish should avoid all fish,” said Dr. Mehr.

“We hope the study will show that children with allergies to fish can eat flakes, which are commonly sold in Victoria’s fish and chips.”

35 children, who have had an allergic reaction to eating fish in the past three years, will be recruited into the study to undergo a skin test and an allergy blood test, to determine if these tests can predict who is reactive or flake tolerant.

All children, undergoing a medically supervised feeding challenge at Epworth Richmond, will be given small amounts of flakes over the next four hours.

Dr Mehr said that if children passed the flake food challenge, they would be allowed to eat flakes in their fish shop.

“If children are allowed to eat flakes, it will make it easier for them when they go out for a meal with their family, rather than just eating a bowl of crisps. It would be a great thing for a lot of families. The other benefit is that flakes also contain the same level of good fats, such as omega-3s, as flathead or blue pomegranate.

Isaac Hardwick, 14, suffers from life-threatening allergies to dairy, eggs, tree nuts and shellfish. He stopped eating fish after an allergic reaction to salmon two years ago.

“My mouth got itchy and my lip swelled up, then my throat felt like it was starting to close,” Isaac said.

“I was really disappointed because I had grown up eating salmon, which was one of my favorite foods. I was really shocked to have an allergic reaction.

Isaac was the first child to participate in the supervised food challenge at the Center for Pediatric Allergies in Epworth. The medically supervised food challenge confirmed that it is safe to eat flakes.

“I was really nervous going into the study because I thought it was going to be like salmon and cause an allergic reaction.”

Isaac’s mother, Linda Everett, is happy that he can now eat flakes.

“Being able to share a meal of fish and chips is a moment of bonding, and he does not feel left out,” said Ms. Everett.

“Isaac’s sister Elle eats a lot of fish, so it was really difficult. I am so happy now. It makes life so much easier.

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