Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why we do what we do- Corn Allergy

This week we had the opportunity to help a child who was recently diagnosed with a corn allergy. The irony is that the allergy medication that is best suited for him contains…. you guessed it—corn products!  We were able to compound medication in a corn-free liquid in the exact dose suitable for this 2 year old. 

In order to ensure his medication was completely free of corn and corn derivatives, we researched each ingredient, even the flavorings, to make sure they were not derived from corn or used any corn products in their manufacturing process. In the end, we learned quite a bit and we were able to provide relief for our patient and peace of mind for his family.  We will continue to work closely with him and his health care providers as he grows and his medication needs change.

Corn allergy is the inability to fully digest the corn protein zein. It is an enormous protein - like other grain proteins including gluten from wheat, rye and others. Some people do not have the biological equipment to break down these proteins in the digestive tract. So the semi-broken down molecules end up in the small intestine and disrupt the digestive process. In some cases they actually damage the lining of the gut.

Although not well understood, corn allergy is becoming increasingly noticeable. Unfortunately, diagnosing a corn allergy can be difficult because the symptoms are just the same as other intolerances - so differentiating is difficult without a food journal.

Corn and corn derivatives find their way into thousands of processed foods, supplements and medications. People with corn allergy even react to the maize used as a filler in many medications. Corn products may even be in many foods you would not suspect, like confectioner’s sugar (a small amount - 2% - of cornstarch is added to powdered sugar to keep it from clumping).

Reading food labels can help, but is tricky. Corn derivatives often go by other names, such as:
·         caramel and caramel color
·         dextrose
·         dextrin
·         fructose
·         malt syrup
·         modified food starch and vinegar
·         Baking powder
·         Maltodextrins, Sorbitol, Mannitol

Visit the AllergicChildwebsite to learn more about corn allergies, other food allergies, and keeping a food journal.