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Monday, June 29, 1998 Published at 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK


Health

Food allergy clinic opens for mums-to-be

New clinic hopes to cut the risk of mums-to-be passing on allergies

Mothers-to-be who are worried that they may have a food allergy that they can pass on to their children will be able to get advice on healthy eating from a new private clinic.

The Ante-Natal Allergy Screening Service has been set up in Chelsea, London, by Individual Wellbeing Diagnostic Laboratories in the wake of the government's warning about peanut allergy.

Chief Medical Officer Sir Kenneth Calman recently warned pregnant women who are allergic to peanuts to steer clear of the nut during their pregnancy.

If one parent has a food allergy, there is up to a 40% chance that they will pass it on to their children. If both have the allergy, the risk increases to 70%.

If the mother steers clear of the problem food during her pregnancy, the risk can be minimised.

Peanut allergy is one of the most common and can prove fatal. Other common food problems include allergies to wheat and dairy products.

More accessible

Individual Wellbeing Diagnostic Laboratories has been taking referrals from GPs for some time, but it is setting up the clinic to make the service more accessible.

It is early days since the Calman announcement, but the laboratories predict an increase in demand from expectant mothers who did not previously know about the risks.

Business manager James Cook says many people do not know they have an allergy.

"People go to their GP complaining of digestive disorders or migraines. They do not realise they are acutely allergic to a food which they are eating two or three times a week," he said.

Tests

A session at the clinic costs £230. This covers tests for immediate and delayed reactions to food and a nutritional advisory service giving information on how mothers-to-be can eat healthily during their pregnancy.

"If a mother has an acute immune reaction to a food, there is a high percentage risk that she will pass it on to her unborn child. If she has a delayed reaction, she will be unwell and this may also affect the child," said Mr Cook.

The clinic can test for allergies to 90 common foods.



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22 Jun 98 | Sci/Tech

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