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Kids' Allergies: One Mom and 7,000 Physicians Look for Answers

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 7:31 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Allergies, Asthma, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Toxic Substances

Robyn O'Brien talks to IB news about the causes of pediatric allergies

IMAGE SOURCE: IB News Interviews Robyn O’Brien, Founder AllergyKids.com /
Photo Courtesy, Robyn O’Brien



The universal symbol of pediatric allergies created by Robyn O'Brien.


Robyn O'Brien and children, Courtesy Robyn O'Brien, AllergyKids.com

"People are ready for this news,” Robyn O’Brien says.  

O’Brien talked to IB News as a conference of 7,000 physicians convene in Philadelphia to search for new ways to tackle allergies as part of the annual convention of The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Allergies are the most frequently reported chronic condition in children – that everyone agrees on.   

Up to 40 percent of children have some form of allergic rhinitis which leads to sneezing, itching and chronic inflammation.

One out of every 15 children under the age of 3 has some sort of severe food allergy – roughly eight percent of kids.

That’s something Robyn O’Brien knows all too well. 

She was hit with the reality of food allergies when her youngest child's face began to swell after she fed her eggs. Testing revealed all four of her children have some form of allergies.

So two years ago, the 36-year-old founded AllergyKids.com., to get to the root of pediatric allergies that are being called a silent epidemic. 

In just a couple of years, O’Brien has established a universal symbol, an exclamation mark inside a stop sign with a green background that children wear on their wrist, their clothes, their Crocs, and lunchboxes to show teachers and other adults they have food allergies. 

Corporations have agreed to lend sponsorship. The logo is available in gear she sells through Whole Foods Markets and Frontier Airlines.

The $30,000 she made last year from sales will go back into her nonprofit as she focuses her attention on the cause of pediatric allergies.

Mainstream medicine would agree that traditional drug therapy often doesn’t work.

The doctors convening issued a national opinion survey released this week, Pediatric Allergies in America report.  

It finds that springtime is the worst season for allergies, and that the majority of the 500 parents who participated say their children are frequently tired and irritable during allergy season due to lack of sleep. Schoolwork often goes undone.  

To combat allergies, half of the kids surveyed take prescription medications. Three-quarters of children had taken medication the previous month.  But 57 percent had changed medication because what they were taking was ineffective.

Everyone is looking for the next great drug therapy, in fact, the survey was sponsored by the maker of children’s allergy medications, ALTANA Pharma US, a unit of Swiss drug maker Nycomed Co and Sepracor Inc.

O’Brien says hers is the only food allergy organization not funded by the food processors or chemical organizations, which she believes are part of the problem.

“Those funding ties are a direct conflict of interest between the interests of the corporations and the interests and well-being of our children.  It’s about an entire generation of children who are sick because the system is upside down,” she says.

There is no financial incentive in finding the cause of allergies she believes, so the overwhelming focus of mainstream medicine is on drugs instead of the basic question of what is causing food allergies.

Nasal allergies are often caused by inflammation in the GI tract and that goes directly to food, says O’Brien.

O’Brien is taking aim at the food processors of America. “With the corporatization of agriculture, one that takes culture out of agriculture and replaces it with business, food is no longer food.” 

Not that O’Brien has any problem with the business world.

Before moving to Colorado, Robyn worked as an equity analyst in Houston.  The MBA in her enjoys reeling off the numbers.

Her real fear is with modern-day agribusiness has genetically engineered pesticides, herbicides, allergens and rogue proteins into the basic DNA of corn and soy seeds which went into America’s fields a decade ago while Europe has shunned the technology.

Today the majority of corn (70 percent) and soy (90 percent) grown in Americans fields comes from GE seed created by former chemical company Monsanto. Roughly 70 percent of grocery store items contain them.

The correlations are astounding she says, noting that correlation is not causation.

O’Brien tells IB News “That year there was a 50 percent increase in soy allergies that year alone in children and adults.  From 1997 to 2002 within five years of the introduction of GE soy peanut allergies doubled.”

O’Brien says “You quickly remember that ten years ago, we didn¹t have to worry about sending a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into school with our children; we didn¹t have to medicate our eight year olds to get them through the school day; and the movie, Rain Man, was all we knew of autism.”

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people allergic to Brazil nuts had the same allergic reaction when consuming GE soybeans.

Consumers Union tried to stop Starlink corn, genetically engineered with a plant pesticide, from entry into the market because of the potential for allergens.  It was supposed to go to animal feed when a consumers group found it in commercially available taco shells. 

There are no labeling requirements for GE ingredients. 

That partially accounts for the rousing sales or “organic” foods which specifically ban GE ingredients.

So far there have been no studies to determine how the introduction of novel proteins and allergens from altering DNA in genetic engineering might affect the population.

That’s because Monsanto convinced the FDA that GE foods are “substantially equivalent” to foods created by modern farming practices.

Monosodium glutamate, aspartame, food colors, genetic engineering – throw out anything in your cabinets you cannot pronounce O’Brien says.  Serve your kids whole foods and see the difference it will make.

AllergyKids.org has received a lot of attention. O’Brien has been contacted by a major publisher about a book. Her story appears in the newly released book, Healthy Child, Healthy World (Dutton March, 2008).

She’s appeared on the CBS Early Show, CNN.  Good Morning America is planning a couple of reports on her. She’s been featured in the New York Times, and has befriended Bobby Kennedy and Erin Brockovich.

Her organization has a medical board of advisers who keep her searching for the sources of allergies. Agree or disagree with her theories on the altered food on America’s plate, but she has clearly touched a nerve.

“Today one out of every three children suffers from allergies, asthma, autism or ADHD. It appears that we have unknowingly and without informed consent engaged our children in one of the largest human trials in history,” O'Brien tells IB News.

“I hear from everyone, they know a child who is suffering from allergies. People are starting to get it,” she says. #


Anonymous User
Posted by ralt
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 3:17 PM EST

It's the vaccines. In the mid eighties the protocol was changed. Today our babies receive 36 vaccines delivered in double and triple doses during infancy.
In 1983 our babies received ten. The first wave of food allergic/anaphylactic babies appeared in the mid eighties. That first wave is now in high school and college. They were rare at the time, but not for long. Processed food was introduced in the fifties. Although a diet of processed and genetically altered food is not good and may exaberate these conditions; the baby's immune system has been tinkered with since mid eighties. Vaccines invite allergies. This is a fact no medical professional or scientist can argue agains. Vaccines change the balance of TH1 and TH2 celle in our IMMUNE SYSTEM. Ten vaccines over childhood harmed some but not enough to be really noticed. Today the number of delivery of vaccines is so drastically changed, I am surprised and actually cannot believe that when the new "products" were introduced it was not known that the new schedule and aggressive schedule would harm our babies. It is a complete departure without any study done to see if there would be harm done to our babies...a complete departure from the ten shots in childhood in '83 to thirty six shots in childhood. Take that on please, Robyn....it is politically correct to squrm at processed and genetically altered foods, but what about the vaccines? No one is brave enough to criticize and point to the vaccines. Vaccines invite allergies...this is a known fact....more vaccines......and boy do we have "more" vaccines...mean bigger invitation. We opened up the barn door....I hope life threatening allergies/anaphylaxis was not a risk taken knowingly. It most certainly is the result. It's the vaccines, the vaccines, the vaccines, the vaccines! I am not against vaccination, but what was done with what could be a good thing was reckless and harmful. Children have died. Those who are alive are struggline with a very difficult condition that is almost impossible to manage. Of course, the same industry that provides the vaccines will provide the treatment, at a big profit. We get sick kids...they get profit from our sick kids...and they are in the business of making our kids sick, and then riding in on a white horse to treat the kids they made sick. What a business....the business of making kids sick.

Anonymous User
Posted by Fluffy
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 3:58 PM EST

There is much to be studied in this area. Some scientists are already searching for the truth concerning the connection between too much vaccine and in what substances the vaccines are being preserved. I hope the attention now being brought to bear on the subject of additives, vaccines and insecticides in foods and their possible adverse effect on the human organisim will spur to greater efforts on the part of scientists and the pharmacological manufacturers to pin down the causes and correct them.

Anonymous User
Posted by Catherine
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 4:42 PM EST

I don't think either vaccines or genetically engineered products will turn out to be the answer to what is causing the increase in allergies. Vaccines, on the one hand, are too old. Children have been vaccinated by mostly the same or similar vaccines for generations, which has saved millions of lives. I think a study of the data will show that the increase in allergies does not track the prevalence of vaccination.

Genetic engineering, on the other hand, is too new. It is also not even now very widespread in its reach as far as products. Plus, children are mostly allergic to natural substances such as egg protein or peanut proteins or pollen. Not artificial additives.

Of course this is a very important subject and quite a detective story. But it is wrong and foolish to take the easiest first guesses as culprits, just because they fall into what people want to believe, which is that technology and modernity is doing this to our children. Logic, people! Let's study all possibilities and see where they lead, not just believe some anti-tech guru somewhere.

Anonymous User
Posted by mary
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 5:41 PM EST

The vaccines did change in '83 from ten vaccines to 36 given in infancy....before they are two years old our children are shot up with thirty six vaccines. The vaccine delivery method also changed. They came to our babies in triple doses such as the MMR, and it was not uncommon to have a baby "catch up" in one well visit all the vaccines missed if they did not show up maybe due to an illness for a previous well visit. Vaccines did change. It is the "change in protocol and delivery mechanism and number" that is "new" and vaccines do invite allergies...that is a fact that is not new. Research vaccines and TH1 and TH2. Allergies are not new, but today they are chronic and life threatening in children...our children cannot eat the food and so many cannot even breath the air...but all I read about is that our floors are too clean and we should let the kids roll around with animals....so many of our kids do roll around with animals and I can tell you my floors have never been clean...but my child will die if she eats soy, peanut or peas...all legumes and very hard to avoid. Please do some research....open your mind to the obvious. The vaccines were a product not a necessary means to avoid disease...and they came to us in the most cost effective method....preserved in mercury until around 2002 so they could come to our babies in multiple doses. Every infant born today is vaccinated on the second day of their lives for a sexually transmitted disease. The mother is not tested for this disease...instead the babies just get the vaccines...on the SECOND day of their lives...most unnecessarily. These vaccines are promoted for profit interests....not to serve us. I am not against vaccines, but I can tell when I am not being considered and I know when my child is not being protected. There should have been a thorough study as to what effect such a drastic and aggressive change in vaccine protocol and delivery method would have on an infant human being. Instead we have suffered as subjects of a twenty year study...the results are obvious...but there will be no back tracking or apologies....the good new for the vaccines industry and pharmaceutical industry is they have a huge generation and future generations of people in need of treatment for the chronic condition our population DID NOT SUFFFER FROM BEFORE 1980/83. The timelines for change in vaccine protocol and change in human infant immune system reaction to proteins (food in particular) matches step for step.

Posted by Robyn at AllergyKids
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 6:15 PM EST

At AllergyKids, we are addressing the risks that the exposures of all toxins present to the health of the American children. Interestingly, the leading pediatric allergists who testified to the safety of MSG, aspartame and other chemical additives found in both processed foods and vaccines, have also recently testified to the safety of bovine lactoferrin, a controversial milk protein. This testimony occurred in 2001, only 7 years ago. As corporations continue to use these allergists in product safety testimony, the liability that falls on these doctors' shoulders is obviously quite significant, given that most American children are vaccinated and consume processed foods.

As government agencies around the world move to protect the health of children, engaging the "precautionary principal" given the risks that these chemical additives might present, it is becoming increasingly clear whose interests our government is protecting.

Given that 1 in 3 American children now has autism, allergies, ADHD or asthma, the financial burden that these children will present to our health care system will be rivaled by the economic burden that they will ultimately present to our country.

In 1946, Harry Truman said, "A nation is only as healthy as its children." What has been done to ours?

Please consider visiting LINK to learn more about what you can do to protect the health of children.

Posted by Jeffrey Smith
Friday, March 21, 2008 11:50 PM EST

I worked with more than 30 scientists around the world to document the health risks of genetically modified (GM) foods. We found 65 risks, which are reported in the book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods (see LINK ). Certainly allergies are a big problem and GM foods most likely contribute to the increase among children over the last 10 years.
Allergic reactions occur when the immune system interprets something as foreign, different, and offensive, and reacts accordingly. All GM foods, by definition, have something foreign and different. And several studies show that they provoke reactions. Rats fed Monsanto’s GM corn, for example, had a significant increase in blood cells related to the immune system. GM potatoes caused the immune system of rats to respond more slowly. And GM peas provoked an inflammatory response in mice, suggesting that it might cause deadly allergic reactions in people.
It might be difficult to identify whether GM foods were triggering allergic responses in the population, since very few countries conduct regular studies or keep careful records. One country that does have an annual evaluation is the UK. Soon after GM soy was introduced into the British diet, researchers at the York Laboratory reported that allergies to soy had skyrocketed by 50% in a single year. Although no follow-up studies were conducted to see if GM soy was the cause, there is evidence showing several ways in which it might have contributed to the rising incidence of allergies:
• The only significant variety of GM soy is Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” variety, planted in 89% of US soy acres. A foreign gene from bacteria (with parts of virus and petunia DNA) is inserted, which allows the plant to withstand Roundup herbicide. The protein produced by the bacterial gene has never been part of the human food supply. Because people aren’t usually allergic to a food until they have eaten it several times, it would be difficult to know in advance if the protein was an allergen. Without a surefire method to identify allergenic GM crops, the World Health Organization (WHO) and others recommend examining the properties of the protein to see if they share characteristics with known allergens. One method is to compare the amino acid sequence of the novel protein with a database of allergens. If there is a match, according to the WHO, the GM crop should either not be commercialized or additional testing should be done. Sections of the protein produced in GM soy are identical to shrimp and dust mite allergens, but the soybean was introduced before WHO criteria were established and the recommended additional tests were not conducted. If the protein does trigger reactions, the danger is compounded by the finding that the Roundup Ready gene transfers into the DNA of human gut bacteria and may continuously produce the protein from within our intestines.
• In addition to the herbicide tolerant protein, GM soybeans contain a unique, unexpected protein, which likely came about from the changes incurred during the genetic engineering process. Scientists found that this new protein was able to bind with IgE antibodies, suggesting that it may provoke dangerous allergic reactions. The same study revealed that one human subject showed a skin prick immune response only to GM soy, but not to natural soy. Another study showed that the levels of one known soy allergen, called trypsin inhibitor, were as much as seven times higher in cooked GM soy compared to a non-GM control.
• GM soy also produces an unpredicted side effect in the pancreas of mice—the amount of digestive enzymes produced is dramatically reduced. If a shortage of enzymes caused food proteins to breakdown more slowly, then they have more time to trigger allergic reactions. Thus, digestive problems from GM soy might promote allergies to a wide range of proteins, not just soy.
• The higher amount of Roundup herbicide residues on GM soy might create reactions in consumers. In fact, many of the symptoms identified in the UK soy allergy study are among those related to glyphosate exposure. [The allergy study identified irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems, chronic fatigue, headaches, lethargy, and skin complaints, including acne and eczema, all related to soy consumption. Symptoms of glyphosate exposure include nausea, headaches, lethargy, skin rashes, and burning or itchy skin. It is also possible that glyphosate’s breakdown product AMPA, which accumulates in GM soybeans after each spray, might contribute to allergies.]
The article points out that in the five years immediately after GM soy was introduced, US peanut allergies doubled. It is known that a protein in natural soybeans cross-reacts with peanut allergies, i.e. soy may trigger reactions in some people who are allergic to peanuts. Given the startling increase in peanut allergies, scientists should investigate whether this cross-reactivity has been amplified in GM soy.

Anonymous User
Posted by Arricka
Saturday, April 12, 2008 4:39 PM EST

Although immunizations contain some questionable ingredients I do not believe they are the problem. I follow my own vaccination schedule and my children showed allergy symptoms before they were vaccinated. My own allergy symptoms have increased daily over the past 5 years and, I was vaccinated in the 70's. Some vaccines (specifically MMR) contain animal protein and could be trigger for allergic reactions.

It's definitely food related!

Anonymous User
Posted by Rita
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 3:03 PM EST

Researchers have known for many years that vaccines can cause allergies including anaphylaxis.
Here are details of many medical journal studies that show the connection:




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