A new UCLA Health System center has opened in Santa Monica to provide state-of-the-art testing and treatment for food and drug allergies and other adverse reactions.

The UCLA Food and Drug Allergy Care Center, 1245 16th St., suites 303 and 309 in Santa Monica, provides a variety of services in allergy care, including oral food and graded drug challenges in which patients are given increasing amounts of a suspected allergen to confirm the presence or absence of allergy.

The center also provides complete skin testing for penicillin allergy and is the only facility in Los Angeles that offers a desensitization program for patients allergic to aspirin, a UCLA Health spokesperson noted.

“Most allergy centers focus either on food or drug allergies,” said Dr. Melinda Braskett, medical director of the allergy center. “We’re unique in that we have them together under one roof with a dedicated staff that can provide the best possible care to patients with these conditions.”

Approximately 6 percent of children and 3 percent of adults suffer from high-risk food allergies, Braskett said. The allergies are specific immune responses to particular foods that cause a range of symptoms, from mild rashes and diarrhea to breathing difficulty and, in rare cases, even death.

“Similarly, about 7 percent of the population reports an allergy to penicillin, while aspirin causes an acute respiratory reaction in about 10 percent of people with asthma,” she says.

The center, located across the street from Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, includes three allergy immunologists, a specialized procedure nurse and a dietitian and is fully integrated with a primary-care medical practice of physicians who have advanced training in both adult internal medicine and pediatrics. The physicians consult with one another to treat all family members, from infants to geriatric patients.

This facility is part of an initiative by the UCLA Department of Medicine to provide care in one setting to all family members, regardless of age. The model allows patients with food or drug allergies to receive state-of-the-art care from allergy specialists who work collaboratively with the patients’ primary-care physicians to coordinate care, the UCLA Health spokesperson said.

“The idea was to take the Food and Drug Allergy Care Center and put it in a setting where we could take care of children and their parents because allergies are very often inherited,” says Dr. Alan Fogelman, executive chair of UCLA’s Medicine Department. “Our vision is this will become a model for how we treat diseases that are common in families.”

Information, (310) 315-8990 or www.FoodDrugAllergy.ucla.edu.

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