Kiwi Fruit Linked To Allergic Reactions In Rhode Island

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Students in Rhode Island were given antihistamines and sent to the emergency room because of allergic reactions that surfaced after they ate fresh kiwi fruits. Who is most at risk of kiwi fruit allergy?  
( Jean-Pierre Muller | AFP/Getty Images )

The Rhode Island Department of Health is probing into nearly three dozen reported cases of students having allergic-type reactions after eating fresh kiwi fruit that was provided as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s fresh fruit and vegetable program.

Students Experience Allergic Reactions After Eating Kiwi Fruit

Health officials said that about 34 students reported of hive, swelling of tongue, and itching of the lips and mouths after eating fresh kiwi fruits on Friday. Some students were given antihistamines at school but some were treated at the emergency room.

The fruits were cut and bagged at Roch’s Fresh Foods in West Greenwich. The company is now working with investigators. Health officials, on the other hand, are reaching out to schools to ensure that all of the fruits are discarded.

Although it is unlikely that a delayed allergic reaction will occur from eating kiwis, health officials said that parents should contact their healthcare provider if any of the students experience symptoms.

Nutritious Fruit

The kiwi fruit is packed with potassium. It provides more than the recommended daily dose of vitamin C and has high levels of beta-carotene. It is also rich in vitamins A and E, as well as in alpha-linolenic acid. Kiwi is great for fighting cancer because of its high antioxidant properties.

Kiwi Fruit Fruit Allergy

Despite the nutritional benefits of the kiwi fruit, it can cause problems to people who develop allergies to it. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Southampton revealed that the kiwi fruit is a significant food allergen that can cause severe reactions.

“Our findings clearly show that allergy to kiwi fruit is an important problem, with most severe reactions occurring in young children,” said study researcher Jane Lucas.

Symptoms of allergic reactions to kiwi include itching and inflammation of the mouth and throat. Some people, however, may experience more serious symptoms such as vomiting, difficulty in breathing, abdominal pain, and in rare cases, potentially deadly anaphylactic shock.

The immune system of those with kiwi fruit allergy cannot recognize a protein in the fruit as food. This protein triggers the body to react as if were a dangerous intruder causing the body’s immune system to release histamine and antibodies to fight what it perceived as a threat to the body.

People with allergic reactions to olives, hazelnuts, avocados, and natural rubber (latex) could also be at risk of kiwi allergy.

“There is now a need for additional studies to explain the apparent increasing prevalence of this allergy and to explain the differences between reactions in children and adults,” Lucas said.

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