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Case reports identify flaxseed sensitivity

Photo by: David Wright via Wikimedia Commons

Flaxseed allergy may be becoming more common, according to two case reports presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Anaheim, Calif.

An ingredient in many different products ranging from baked goods to art supplies, flaxseed has been touted as having health benefits. However, these case reports show that it can cause allergic reactions after being ingested or after skin exposure.

“Flaxseed allergy has been reported in adults, but not as often in children,” Dr. Alana Xavier De Almeida reported at the ACCAI, and in a press release from the organization. “We saw an 18-month-old patient with a rash throughout his face and chest 20 minutes after eating a packet of oatmeal with premixed flaxseed,” she said.

“This was the first time the patient had eaten flaxseed, and the event self-resolved within four hours. A skin prick test was performed revealing positive results for various nuts and seeds, including flaxseed. Evaluation also included measurement of serum IgE levels.”

Based on the history and test results, a diagnosis of an IgE-mediated reaction to flaxseed was made.

Dr. Xavier De Almeida is lead author of the presentation ‘IgE mediated flaxseed allergy in non-atopic toddler polysensitized to tree nuts but tolerating other seeds.’

The second medically challenging case involved an artist with recurrent rashes on her hands. An assessment of items she used while painting including paint, charcoal, and solutions to clean brushes revealed the oil paints contained linseed/flaxseed-based oil.

“Her hand dermatitis was severe and disrupted her painting,” said allergist Dr. Richard Harris and lead author of the presentation ‘Contact dermatitis of the hands caused by flaxseed in artist’s paint.’

“She exclusively used oils to paint. We asked her to bring all items and products she used while working on her art pieces,” said Dr. Harris in the news release. “Patch testing was done using test wells taped on her back for 48 hours. Flaxseed reacted significantly at her patch test site at 48 and 72 hours.”

According to the ACAAI, these two documented cases illustrate that flaxseed, widely used as an ingredient in various products, should be considered a potential allergic trigger.


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