BAS Interviews: Laurie Tarkan

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PhadiaImmunoca AllergyTest


Laurie Tarkan


Personal Bio:
I’m a health reporter who writes for the New York Times and national magazines including Health, Prevention, Parents, Parenting, Fit Pregnancy, More, and others. I’ve also co-authored two books on pregnancy and am the sole author of a book for women with a family history of breast cancer.


Favorite color, animal, food, place to go, quote:
I love Indian food and the best Indian food I ever had was in Scotland. I love my kitty, Vali (short for Valentine) and so glad we got him. We have some relatives who are allergic and didn’t get a cat for a number of years, but decided we’d try it, and so far, he seems to not really trigger a big reaction in my relatives. Yay!

Your allergies/family allergies:
I have an allergy to penicillin and sulfa and potentially other medications. My husband has seasonal allergies that completely run him down despite medications during those peak allergy weeks throughout the year. Thankfully, my two children do not have allergies that we know of.

What was your introduction into the world of food allergies/allergies?
As a health reporter, I’ve always liked to write about issues that help people be smarter health consumers, over diagnoses of diseases, overuse of tests, the need for second opinions, etc. I learned that there was a blood test that people could take instead of having all those skin pricks. I have sometimes wondered about my drug allergies but because I don’t want to go thru that skin prick thing, I’ve avoided going to an allergist. I’ve learned that many allergists don’t use the blood test because they’re more comfortable with skin prick testing and because it is a big part of their bread and butter.

When did you start your blog? What was the final push that made you do so?
After I wrote the article on blood testing for the New York Times, I was approached by the then-president of Phadia, who makes one of the major blood allergy tests, ImmunoCap, and we struck up a casual email friendship. Months later, he asked if I’d be interested in blogging for them about allergies and asthma. One of his frustrations was that more people with asthma were not being tested (neither skin prick nor blood testing) for allergies, so he wanted to try to get that word out more. I agreed to do it, and also made an agreement with myself not to write about allergies for the newspaper or magazines to avoid any perceived conflict of interest. If I have any good ideas, I’ll just hand them off to my fellow health reporter friends.

What person, organization, or website has been the most influential to date?
I try to live up to the high standards of the New York Times, for which I write.

Final thoughts?
As a journalist, my goal is to keep my blog unbiased, and just report on relevant news and issues. I’d love to become the go-to place for the late, breaking allergy news.