Food Allergies

A Family Affair

It is well known that allergies are genetically transmitted from parent to child. If one parent has respiratory allergies there is a 50% probability that any child will have allergies. The percentage increases to 70% if both parents are allergic.

Definition: Food allergy is an adverse food reaction due to an immunologic mechanism (differentiated from food intolerance). Approximately 3% of children have food allergy.

Most common food reaction is immediate anaphylaxis, frequently within minutes of ingestion. The most common foods in children and adolescents causing anaphylaxis are: peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. This type of reaction is life threatening and requires immediate emergency medical attention.

Eight foods are responsible for 93% of food allergic reactions: egg, peanut, milk, soy, tree nut, fish, shellfish and wheat.

Other reactions in food allergic patients may induce hives or swelling or exacerbation of atopic dermatitis (in children). Other manifestations of food allergy may include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

More recently a new food allergy identified is that to red meat following a tick bite.

Avoidance is the only treatment available for food allergies at this time. All patients with anaphylactic type reactions should carry injectable epinephrine and wear a medic alert bracelet.

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