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Poor allergy advice

26th September 2007

The response to an allergy epidemic in the UK has been heavily criticised by a powerful committee of politicians.

peanuts

The House of Lords science and technology committee warned that poor care and confusing advice is being used to deal with the problems; that there were not enough specialist services and that food labelling was inadequate.

Figures show that the number of people suffering allergic reactions has trebled in the last 20 years with a third of the population estimated to suffer at some point in their lives but the UK is lagging behind western Europe in the way it tackles the problem.

The Lords report, which comes after the Commons health committee criticised the lack of services in 2004, called for specialist allergy centres to be set up.

The UK has over 90 clinics, but only six are led by allergy consultants, while the report said GPs and other health professionals had poor knowledge of allergies.

The committee raised concerns over food warnings such as “may contain nuts? and said they needed to be clearer. Evidence was also presented that abstaining from eating peanuts in pregnancy and in the early years may be increasing the risk of allergies developing and as a result the Lords called for a change to government guidance.

Committee chairman Baroness Finlay said: “We have a severe shortage of expert medical provision to deal with allergies. The government must now take steps to deal with that problem.?

The British Allergy Foundation and the Allergy UK support group welcomed the report.

 

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