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Science
CASE NOTES
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 24 October
PRESENTER
DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Tuesday 24 October 2006
Peanuts in their shells

Full programme transcript >>

Allergies

Up to a third of the population will suffer from an allergy at some point in their lives.

In this edition of Case Notes Dr Mark Porter asks why there has been such an apparent explosion in allergies in recent years.

Childrens' Allergies

This week Mark visits the Allergy Clinic at Southampton General Hospital and asks Dr Jane Lucas why the number of children suffering from food allergies is increasing.

It’s important for children with allergies to be followed-up in a clinic because many will grow out of them, especially reactions to milk and eggs.

But some children have potentially life-threatening reactions to certain foods – anaphylaxis. The restaurateur Giorgio Locatelli has a daughter who is severely allergic and he has had to devise special recipes to cope (see below for his eggless chocolate cake).

An exaggerated risk?

While as many as 1 in 6 parents believe their children have food allergies, one study suggests the real figure is more like 1 in 50.

Professor Allan Colver believes the dangers of allergies have been exaggerated and would like to see fewer epi-pens containing adrenaline given to parents. He tells Mark why.

Treating Allergies

The basic treatment for allergies is education and avoidance, adrenaline-filled epi-pens and anti-histamine.

At Southampton, the unit also uses immunotherapy, or desensitisation, for adults with hay fever and allergies to bee or wasp stings. Dr Tony Williams explains how a series of injections, containing minute amounts of the allergen, can help reduce allergic reactions.

Giorgio Locatelli's Eggless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

450g/1lb plain flour (organic if possible)
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g/10oz caster sugar
125ml/4fl oz vegetable oil
300ml/½ pint water
2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
whipped cream, to decorate

For the icing:

dark chocolate spread
OR
225g/8oz icing sugar
25g/1oz unsweetened cocoa powder
75g/3oz butter, diced
1 tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp milk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir in the sugar.

2. Combine all the wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients all at once and beat until smooth.

3. Pour the batter into a greased 23cm/9in springform cake tin and bake for about 1 hour, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean (place a sheet of foil over the top of the cake if it becomes too dark). Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

4. Turn the cake out of the tin and spread the chocolate spread over the top. Or, if you are making your own icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl and make a well in the centre.

5. Gently heat the butter, golden syrup and milk until the butter has melted, then pour into the well in the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

6. Beat with a wooden spoon until the icing has cooled and thickened slightly. Spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake with a palette knife. Decorate with whipped cream.
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