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Pumpkin Allergy

Pumpkin lattes, pies, shakes, muffins, bars, bread, cheesecake, cookies, pancakes, flam, pudding, squares, soups, and yes even, pumpkin chili and lasagna.  Is there anything you can’t make with pumpkin?

Is pumpkin dangerous to some individuals?

Allergic reactions to pumpkin “flesh” are rare with only 3 cases described in the medical literature.  One was a patient who had anaphylaxis after eating pumpkin soup.  The second patient was an 18 year-old who developed itching, shortness of breath and throat tightness after eating pumpkin cake at school he made for home economics class.  He required epinephrine and observation in the hospital.  His blood allergy test to pumpkin was positive.  The third patient was an 8 year-old boy who developed sneezing, eyelid itching and puffiness and chest tightness while carving a pumpkin.  He had not ingested pumpkin, but rubbed his eyes after putting his hand in the pumpkin. His skin test was positive to pumpkin.  To read this article, go to: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20306822

Pumpkin seed allergy is also rare with only 4 case reports, two of which I describe here.  An 11 year-old child had anaphylaxis 15 minutes after consuming a small number of pumpkin seeds.  Although his skin test was negative, he developed hives, swelling and asthma after eating 10 grams of pumpkin seeds, confirming the diagnosis. This article from Switzerland also includes 2 children with sunflower seed allergy. Go to:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19796220   A 33 year-old-man in Spain developed recurrent episodes of facial swelling/redness and difficulty breathing after eating toasted pumpkin seeds.  His allergy skin test to pumpkin was positive.  He was offered a specific challenge test to eat pumpkin seeds, yet he declined. (Smart patient!)  For the complete article, go to: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19836872

Pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) are in the Cucurbitaceae family sometimes called the gourd family.  This also includes squash, zucchini and some gourds.  Pumpkin seeds are usually eaten after they are toasted as appetizers, used on salads, or in breads.  Pumpkin seeds contain large amounts of protein and the most common ones to trigger allergies are profilins and lipid transfer proteins (LTP).   Most of the patients who had pumpkin allergy also had other allergies including allergic rhinitis to pollen, asthma or other food allergies including banana, strawberry, peach or nectarine.

At Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, we specialize in food allergy diagnosis and treatment.  Enjoy that pumpkin treat, but if it doesn’t agree with you, call us.  Many food reactions are not reported to their doctor or their doctor tells them it’s “not possible.”  Perhaps pumpkin allergy is underdiagnosed.  If you have experienced an allergic-type reaction, to pumpkin or another food, let us know.  We can help.

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