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KEEPING ALERT TO ALLERGENS

In 1996, British doctors reported that an increasing number of children are becoming allergic to peanuts, possibly because more pregnant women are eating them, sensitizing their unborn babies, or because the babies become sensitized by drinking formulas that contain peanut protein or peanut oil.

These findings, which appeared in the August 1996 issue of the British Medical Journal, were reported by Dr. Jonathan Hourihane and colleagues at Southampton General Hospital. They tested 622 adults and children with known or suspected peanut allergy.

The Food Allergy Network, which now numbers 20,000 people, publishes a bimonthly newsletter with recipes and tips. It has produced an 18-minute video, "It Only Takes One Bite," to educate baby sitters and teachers on how to deal with allergy situations. It also maintains a Web site filled with information, including alerts about recalls, which happen with some regularity.

On Sept. 4, for example, the site noted that Land O' Lakes recalled its caramel pecan ice cream because it could contain peanuts. Five days later, Pillsbury sent out an alert because walnuts weren't listed as an ingredient on a chocolate chip cookie wrapper.

To reach the Food Allergy Network, call (800) 929-4040.
-- Paula Voell

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