Fruit and Veg allergies on the rise

Cases of oral allergies to fruit and vegetables are rapidly increasing, according to a British specialist.

Dr Pamela Ewan, an allergy consultant at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, said the rise in cases appears to be outstripping even peanut allergies.

Dr Ewan, who sees more than 8,000 people with allergies a year, said most patients with reactions to fruit and vegetables were youngsters.

Symptoms include swelling in the mouth and throat, and breathing difficulties.

She said: "We have seen a big rise in the number of cases in the past four to five years.

"It is a bit like the peanut allergy was the epidemic of the 1990s. I think fruit and vegetables are becoming the epidemic now.

"In term of numbers, fruit and vegetables are the new form of peanut allergy."

Dr Ewan urges parents to take the problem seriously.

"We think fruit and vegetables are healthy, which they mostly are, but you can be allergic to them."

"Early on when we first picked it up, it was passed off as not being serious. It began with fairly mild itching in the mouth.

"But now we are seeing people who are getting really severe throat closure, a significant swelling at the back of the throat which can impede breathing."

One of her patients is Alexander Lambert, a 15-year-old schoolboy from Essex. He first discovered he had a reaction to bananas when he was 11.

Tests have since proved positive to other fruits. Alexander said that now he even has to be careful about what fruits other people can eat around him for fear of triggering a reaction.

Other specialist centres in the UK have confirmed to the BBC that allergies to fruit and vegetables is a growing problem.

Dr Adam Fox, a consultant paediatric allergist at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, said: "We are certainly seeing lots of oral allergy syndrome.

"This affects people who are actually allergic to pollen - such as birch pollen.

"There is a cross-reactivity between the protein in that pollen with those in fruit and vegetables, so people start getting a reaction to fruits such as apples and pears.

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