New Zealand; Allergy fears turn Kiwis off national fruit

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3:38PM Monday May 04, 2009

Kiwifruit might be New Zealand's national fruit, but fewer of us are eating it out of fear it could trigger a fatal allergic attack.

New Zealand allergy specialist Vincent St Aubyn Crump has warned that an increasing number of New Zealanders are developing allergies to their iconic fruit.

Almost one per cent of the population was believed to have some kind of allergy to kiwifruit, Dr Crump said.

The allergy was being caused by the spread of pollen from the common silver birch tree.

"There is an epidemic of people allergic to silver birch, and it seems to directly correlate to people developing fruit allergies later in life," the specialist told the New Zealand Herald.

In the most extreme cases, fruit eaters suffer an anaphylactic shock, which causes tightening of the airways and can be fatal.

"The prevalence of these cases is increasing each year," Dr Crump said.

He said the trend was particularly unusual because New Zealanders had been consuming kiwifruit for a long time and had not changed their eating habits of late.




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