, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 217-230
Date: 08 Nov 2007

Food Allergy Overview in Children

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Food allergies have increased significantly in the past decade. An accurate history is crucial in approaching the management. At the outset, food intolerance must be distinguished from food allergies and, furthermore, these allergies should be classified into either an IgE, Non-IgE, or a mixed response. The clinical features vary from life-threatening anaphylaxis to milder IgE-mediated responses, atopic dermatitis, and gastrointestinal symptoms. The severity of the reaction and the potential risk for anaphylaxis on reexposure should be assessed. Milk, soy, egg, wheat, and peanut allergies are common in children, whereas peanut, tree nut, fish, shell fish allergies, and allergies to fruits and vegetables are common in adults. Structural proteins are important determinants of the severity of the reactions and may often predict the natural history and cross reactivity. Diagnostic work up must be guided by the clinical history. Skin testing and food-specific IgE done by standard methods are very useful, whereas oral challenges may be indicated in some situations. Majority of the patients outgrow their allergies to milk, soy, egg, and wheat, and some to peanut also, therefore, patients should be periodically reassessed. Novel diagnostic techniques which detect specific allergenic epitopes have been developed. Several newer therapies are promising.