Pediatric Annals

Avoiding Formaldehyde Allergic Reactions In Children

Sharon F Jacob, MD; Tace Steele, BA

Abstract

It is generally recommended that exposure to products containing formaldehyde, FRPs, and aspartame (Nutrasweet) be avoided in children. Formaldehyde allergy in children is a problem that is potentially avoidable by substituting products free of this sensitizing chemical.

1. Boyvat A, Akyol A, Giiigey E. Contact sensitivity to preservatives in Turkey. Contact Dermatitis. 2005;52(6): 333-337.

2. Schnuch A, Geier J, Uter W, Frosch PJ. Patch testing with preservatives, antimicrobials and industrial biocides: Results from a multicentre study. BrJDerrnatol. 1998; 138(3):467476.

3. Pratt MD, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patchtest results, 2001-2002 study period. Dermatitis. 2004;15(4): 176-183.

4. Shackelford KE, Belsito DV The etiology of allergic-appearing foot dermatitis: a 5-year retrospective study. JAm AcadDermatol. 2002;47(5):715721.

5. Garrett MH, Hooper MA, Hooper BM, Rayment PR, Abramson MJ. Increased risk of allergy in children due to formaldehyde exposure in homes. Allergy. 1999;54(4): 330-337.

6. Van den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Longstreth WT, van Belle G, Daling JR, McKnight B. Aspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized crossover trial. Neurology. 1994;44(10): 1787- 1793.

7. Rumchev KB, Spickett JT, Bulsara MK, Phillips MR, Stick SM Domestic exposure to formaldehyde significantly increases the risk of asthma in young children. Ew Respir J. 2002;20(2):403408.

8. Hill AM, Belsito DV Systemic contact dermatitis of the eyelids caused by formaldehyde derived from aspartame? Contact Dermatitis. 2003;49(5): 258-259.

9. Rietschel RL, Fowler JF. Fisher's Contact Dermatitis, 4th ed Williams & Wilkins, 1995.

TABLE.

Examples of Products Containing Formaldehyde or FRPs…

Formaldehyde is a well-known sensitizer in children, and allergy to this substance is a more widely recognized problem in recent years.1-3 In some children, even small amounts of formaldehyde can trigger and maintain an eczematoid-type dermatitis, headache, or symptoms of asthma.4"7 Allergy to formaldehyde is not surprising, given the large number of products containing formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs).

As with the more immediate allergic reactions that occur to peanuts and latex, for example, it is known that an allergic reaction doesn't occur at the first exposure to the allergen. Rather, with each exposure to the allergen, the person is more likely to reach the threshold/dose at which they express the allergic reaction. Through metabolism, aspartame is converted metabolically in the liver to methanol, which is in turn metabolized to formaldehyde.8

Most people with formaldehyde allergy don't recount a specific exposure that made them sensitive. Following patch testing, the gold standard to diagnose contact dermatitis and with subsequent allergen education, patients are often able to identify the products in their daily routine that contain formaldehyde.

Table

TABLE.Examples of Products Containing Formaldehyde or FRPs

TABLE.

Examples of Products Containing Formaldehyde or FRPs

It is generally recommended that exposure to products containing formaldehyde, FRPs, and aspartame (Nutrasweet) be avoided in children. Formaldehyde allergy in children is a problem that is potentially avoidable by substituting products free of this sensitizing chemical.

REFERENCES

1. Boyvat A, Akyol A, Giiigey E. Contact sensitivity to preservatives in Turkey. Contact Dermatitis. 2005;52(6): 333-337.

2. Schnuch A, Geier J, Uter W, Frosch PJ. Patch testing with preservatives, antimicrobials and industrial biocides: Results from a multicentre study. BrJDerrnatol. 1998; 138(3):467476.

3. Pratt MD, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patchtest results, 2001-2002 study period. Dermatitis. 2004;15(4): 176-183.

4. Shackelford KE, Belsito DV The etiology of allergic-appearing foot dermatitis: a 5-year retrospective study. JAm AcadDermatol. 2002;47(5):715721.

5. Garrett MH, Hooper MA, Hooper BM, Rayment PR, Abramson MJ. Increased risk of allergy in children due to formaldehyde exposure in homes. Allergy. 1999;54(4): 330-337.

6. Van den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Longstreth WT, van Belle G, Daling JR, McKnight B. Aspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized crossover trial. Neurology. 1994;44(10): 1787- 1793.

7. Rumchev KB, Spickett JT, Bulsara MK, Phillips MR, Stick SM Domestic exposure to formaldehyde significantly increases the risk of asthma in young children. Ew Respir J. 2002;20(2):403408.

8. Hill AM, Belsito DV Systemic contact dermatitis of the eyelids caused by formaldehyde derived from aspartame? Contact Dermatitis. 2003;49(5): 258-259.

9. Rietschel RL, Fowler JF. Fisher's Contact Dermatitis, 4th ed Williams & Wilkins, 1995.

TABLE.

Examples of Products Containing Formaldehyde or FRPs

10.3928/0090-4481-20070101-12

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