What Do IVs Have To Do With Corn Allergies?

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Food allergies are seemingly always in the news these days as their prevalence continues to increase. Food labeling improvements certainly help, but they are only one part of making life safer for those with food allergies. These requirements are also quite limited, necessitating only the listing of items considered a “Major Food Allergen,” which the FDA lists as follows:

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Fish
  4. Shellfish
  5. Tree nuts
  6. Peanuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans

While this is a start, as these eight allergens are thought to cause more than 90% of food allergies in the US, there are more than 160 known food allergens, and the vast majority go unlabeled.

One such unlabeled food allergen is corn. Corn allergies are considered rare, but they can be very serious. As with other food allergies, reactions to corn vary from mild to moderate or severe, and they can occur almost immediately or several hours after exposure.

One of the challenges specific to corn allergies is that corn is an ingredient in so many other foods we consider ingredients. For example, according to The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, corn is present in vegetable oil, “baking powder, caramel, cellulose, citric acid, dextrin, dextrose, inositol, malt, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate (MSG), semolina, sodium erythorbate, sorbitol, starch, vanilla extract, xanthan gum, and xylitol.”

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Additionally, ACAAI lists the following packaged foods with corn and corn derivatives:

  • Cereals
  • Candies
  • Jams
  • Syrups
  • Sauces
  • Snack Foods
  • Canned Fruits
  • Prepared meats
  • Beverages

Beyond foods, however, corn is an ingredient in all sorts of other non-food products, including healthcare items, cosmetics, clothing, vitamins, plastics, crayons, and more. Two of the most concerning products that may contain corn are cornstarch-powdered gloves and dextrose-based IV solutions. In the event of a medical emergency, whether caused by a reaction to corn or not, an EMT or other first responder could easily exacerbate a crisis by simply putting on gloves and administering a simple IV if s/he is unaware that the patient is allergic to corn. This is one of the many reasons why wearing a corn allergy medical ID and informing medical personnel about all food allergies (in emergencies and otherwise) is essential.

Do you wear a medical alert for a corn or other food allergy? How else do you keep yourself safe?

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