Food allergy in children
- Cite this article as:
- Hourihane, J.O., Smith, P.K. & Strobel, S. Indian J Pediatr (2002) 69: 61. doi:10.1007/BF02723779
Food allergies are increasing in prevalence and as a disease burden throughout the world, however they seem to increasingly affect countries with a formerly low prevalence. Consideration and diagnosis of food allergies are important as it has ramifications that affect a child’s diet, care at school and home and is recognised to be associated with anxiety of parents, family and care takers. Food allergies vary significantly between countries, however nut allergies appear to be widely associated with serious reactions and death. The value of specific food immunoglobulin E (IgE) and skin prick tests (SPT) has been extensively analysed in children in recent years and can provide very useful information in an appropriately selected population. Diagnosis may require formal challenges to confirm a genuine allergic reaction condition rather than an intolerance reaction due to other mechanisms. The medical care of a food allergic child requires concurrent dietary advice and management, risk avoidance and emergency management plans. Reintroduction of foods occurs when the risk profile is appropriate based mainly on the predictive information obtained by SPTs and specific IgE levels. Fortunately allergies to egg and milk resolve by 3–5 years in about 80% of children. There have been some recent advances in immunotherapeutic approaches to food allergy although this has not translated to success in human treatment to date.