Myth No : Children Never Outgrow Food Allergies
“Somewhere around 90% to 95% of kids outgrow dairy, egg, wheat, and soy allergies,” McMorris says. That used to happen by the time they started school, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Research suggests children now take longer to outgrow milk and egg allergies, though the majority are allergy-free by age 16.
The chances that your child will outgrow a shellfish, tree nut, or peanut allergy are much lower, a study suggests.
How To Know A Food Allergy Has Been Outgrown
Being diagnosed with a food allergy or having your child diagnosed with a food allergy might feel like a jail sentence.
It can be exhausting to have to scour ingredients lists, find modified recipes and worry about accidentally ingesting the wrong food.
The good news: Some food allergies fade away, with many children managing to outgrow those allergies before they leave kindergarten. And if youre a food-allergy sufferer worried about passing it down to your children, we now know there are ways to prevent food allergies from developing.
How can we tell?
If an allergist like me once diagnosed you with a food allergy and you suspect youve outgrown it, we would perform two tests: a skin-prick test and a blood test.
If the results tell us that you could have outgrown that allergy, well start a food challenge.
Say you were diagnosed with an egg allergy. During a food challenge, youll come to the clinic and eat a tiny piece of egg while we carefully monitor your bodys reaction. After some time, youll try a larger piece of egg. If you dont have an allergic reaction, the process will be repeated until you eat whats considered a full serving.
A food challenge can take several hours. If you reach the milestone of eating an entire serving with no reactions, we can safely say that youve outgrown that allergy.
Which allergies are likely to be outgrown?
Egg, milk, soy and wheat allergies are the ones we usually see being outgrown.
How to prevent food allergies
Why Do Certain People Have Allergic Reactions
Food allergies appear to be on the rise. For instance, the say that among children, the prevalence of food allergies increased from 3.4% in 19971999 to 5.1% in 20092011.
Researchers are not sure why numbers are increasing, but there are some theories:
- Diet: Changes in eating habits in Western nations such as a lower consumption of animal fats and higher intake of vegetable fats may be the cause.
- Antioxidants: Most people eat smaller quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables than previous generations did. These foods are high in antioxidants, which help protect against cell damage. Some
- hygiene hypothesis , this theory notes that many children are now growing up in sterile environments with much lower exposure to germs. Developed countries, in which people tend to have higher use of antibacterial products and less exposure to healthy bacteria in the environment, have significantly higher rates of food allergies.
However, all of the above are theories, with no compelling evidence to support them.
Also Check: What To Eat With Multiple Food Allergies
How Children And Adults Develop Allergies
In children, the most common food allergies include milk, egg, peanuts and tree nuts . For adults, the most common new food allergies include fish, shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts.
Why the difference?
A childs diet determines what kinds of allergies could develop. For example, shellfish allergies in children are not very common, because children do not typically eat much shellfish.
Children often outgrow some of these allergies. Approximately 70% of children with milk, wheat or egg allergies no longer have them as adults. Children are much less likely to outgrow nut allergies.
Its less likely for an adult to outgrow a food allergy. Thats because the types of allergies that adults develop such as tree nuts and shellfish are less common for children to outgrow.
Treatment Of Food Allergies
Food allergy treatments depend upon the type of food to which the patient is allergic and the degree to which he or she is allergic. Individuals who are seriously allergic to a certain food might not benefit from any food allergy treatments at all.
Allergy shots are not used to treat food allergies. On the other hand, allergy shots are great at helping with nasal allergies like hayfever, including itchy and watery eyes, asthma control and even eczema.
Don’t Miss: Does Allergy Medicine Affect Birth Control
How Food Allergies Develop
An allergic reaction is a persons body detecting something foreign, said Charles Frey, Jr., DO, an allergist with OSF HealthCare. The immune system says, Hey, this shouldnt be here, and causes functions to rid the body of what it considers foreign or bad.
For example, a person allergic to ragweed pollen may sneeze, cough and have a runny nose. This is the bodys way of trying to flush out the pollen. With food allergies, the immune system tries to get rid of the allergen through vomiting and diarrhea, but they can also cause hives or more serious reactions.
Exposure to an allergen is what causes an allergy. You cant develop an allergy to something that you have never been exposed to, Dr. Frey said.
The first time someone who is prone to allergies is exposed to a potential allergen, a strong immune response is not likely. When a person has been exposed to a food more than once, the body can develop allergic antibodies, which may prompt dramatic symptoms. Those include hives or rashes, swollen lips or tongue, or even anaphylaxis, which could include life-threatening breathing problems and low blood pressure.
Food Allergies Can Begin At Any Age
Suspect you have food allergies?
Youve always been able to eat a certain food, such as shrimp or strawberries, but suddenly you have a reaction to it. Do you have a food allergy?
Understanding the causes and signs of food allergies can help you discover whats going on and develop a plan to combat them.
You May Like: Does My Dog Have Allergies Sneezing
Research For New Treatments
Food oral immunotherapy is being studied as a way to help treat food allergies. Under close supervision, a person takes in small daily doses of a food allergen by mouth or under the tongue. The goal is to try to make the immune system tolerate the allergen so that the body won’t react as badly to it. This is called desensitization. Talk to your doctor if you want to know more about for this and other new treatments being studied.
What Foods Most Often Cause A Food Allergy
A few foods cause most allergies. The protein in a food that causes an allergy is called a food .
- Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy cause most problems in children.
- Milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish cause most problems in adults.
If you are allergic to one food, you may also be allergic to other foods like it. So if you are allergic to shrimp, you may also be allergic to lobster or crab.
Recommended Reading: How Long Do Eye Allergies Last
Whos At Risk Of Developing Allergies
We know children with severe eczema are more risk of developing food allergies. We think that’s through the broken skin barrier allergens can get into the skin to sensitise the infant usually before they develop oral tolerance, says Amena who has 20 years of experience as a clinical nurse working with allergies.
Don’t be surprised or scared if the GP looks at the eczema and thinks it might need some steroids to get it under control. Because the longer you leave eczema, that is weepy or cracked and red and inflamed that skin, the higher the probability is that it could lead to developing food allergies.
Can You Prevent Allergies To Begin With
When pregnant should you circumvent certain foods that are known to cause allergies? Only if you are known to be allergic yourself.
Likewise, when weaning you shouldnt avoid common food allergens, unless theres a history of food allergies in the family, in which case you should seek advice from a healthcare professional.
For those without a history of food allergies, there is a lot of evidence now that early instruction of food into the weaning diet helps, says Amena before adding: Your babys less likely to develop an allergy if given these foods when weaning between 6-12 months, than if you avoid all the allergens, because the body needs that immunological recognition of those food allergens.
Don’t Miss: Can A Gluten Allergy Cause Hives
Can My Child Outgrow Food Allergies
Food allergies can be outgrown. This means that as your child grows up, they may stop being allergic to a particular food. It is more common to outgrow an allergy to cow’s milk, soy, wheat or egg. It is less common to outgrow allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds or seafood these allergies will be lifelong for 3 out of 4 children.
Children And Food Allergies
It’s important to take special care with children who have food allergies. A child with severe food allergies may have a life-threatening to even a tiny amount of a food allergen. Your child should always wear a medical alert bracelet. Talk to your doctor about an Anaphylaxis Action Plan.
Make sure that all caregivers :
- Know about your child’s food allergy.
- Can recognize the symptoms of a food allergy.
- Know where the epinephrine shot is kept and how to use it.
- Know to call 911 immediately.
Children may have only mild symptoms in the first few minutes after they eat the food allergen, but they may have severe symptoms in 10 to 60 minutes. Children always should be observed in a hospital for several hours after a reaction.
Make sure that your child:
- Always wears a .
- Always carries epinephrine. Children at risk of severe allergic reactions should keep their epinephrine at school or day care and at home. Older, mature children should be taught to give themselves the shot.
Although your child needs to avoid certain foods, he or she still needs to eat healthy foods. A can tell you which foods are important for your child’s health.
Also Check: How To Treat Babies With Allergies
The Difference Between A Food Allergy And Intolerance
A food intolerance sees your body produce a chemical imbalance to certain foods, which can lead to feeling bloated, having an upset stomach, developing a rash or feeling itchy. The reactions tend not to be life-threatening, they can be debilitating though, says Professor Clare Mills from Manchester University. Examples include being lactose or gluten intolerant.
A food allergy is when your bodys immune system creates a response to proteins in foods which it deems unsafe. Medically, they are referred to as an IgE mediated food allergy. IgE is an antibody that normally we produce, to fight parasitic infections like malaria. And for some reasons, people can develop them to things like pollen and get hay fever and also foods, explains the allergy expert who, in addition to her role as Professor of Molecular Allergology, is currently carrying out research to discover just how common food allergies are in adults.
The reason why food allergies are regarded as so dangerous is that while for many the allergic response is relatively mild, for others it can quickly deteriorate and become life-threatening. Whats more, for some, only a tiny amount is required to have a reaction hence why on packaging you may see warnings such as may contain traces of nuts.
Natural History Of Childhood Food Allergies
Understanding the natural history of food allergy is essential in managing patientswith these disorders. Food allergy typically begins in the first 2 years of life. While some food allergies, suchas cows milk and egg, are often outgrown, peanut and tree nut allergies are morelikely to persist into adulthood. Although more than one third of parents will reportadverse food reactions in their young children, the rates of verifiable IgE-mediated foodallergy are much lowerin the range of 6-8% at 1 year of age . Most childhood food allergy is acquired in the first or second year of life andthen falls progressively until late childhood, after which the prevalence remains stable atapproximately 3 to 4% . The prevalence of food allergy in children has slowly increased in the USA, from 3.4% in 1997 to 1999 to5.1% in 2009 to 2011 . Thefactors that may make an IgE-mediated reaction to food more severe are shown in Table 1.
Read Also: How To Tell If You Have An Alcohol Allergy
Lifestyle Can Cause Food Allergies
Fear is playing a larger role in people developing food allergies from a young age. Parents are putting off feeding certain foods to their children out of worry over a potential allergic reaction, regardless of previous diagnosis. A study in England suggests that by children eating peanuts early, it might allow the immune system to develop better, avoiding allergies. Sometimes, that instinct to protect might lead to the immune system not developing the way it should.
How To Get Tested For Food Allergies
The best way to know for sure whether your reaction to a certain food is a food allergy is to see an allergist, Dr. Hoyt says. They can talk through your history of reactions and run a skin or blood test to look for the specific antibodies that allow an allergic response to occur in the body.
An allergist might also want to conduct a food challenge toconfirm the presence of an allergy, or to tease out the specifics of theallergy.
For example, do people with a tree nut allergy need toavoid all tree nuts? Typically not, Dr. Hoyt points out. We can work withthose patients based on their history and test results to determine which treenuts they really need to avoid and which ones are safe for them.
While there are several at-home food allergy test kits on the market, Dr. Hoyt advises caution. These can be costly and inaccurate.
Seeking a proper diagnosis from a physician is alsoimportant in case you dont actually have a food allergy but are avoidingcertain foods that bother your stomach.
Its really important for those patients to let theirphysician know that theyre on an avoidance diet and why theyre on it, Dr.Hoyt says. They should also work with a registered dietitian to ensure thattheyre getting the vitamins and minerals that they need.
Also Check: Is A Cough Caused By Allergies
Food Allergies In Adults
Adults can develop food allergies as well. You might have a reaction to something randomly or even to something to which you were previously allergic. Avoid any food that causes you to have a reaction, and contact your doctor to learn more about the possible allergy.
If you have allergy symptoms or think that you may have outgrown an allergy, ask your doctor to confirm it.
If you suspect you may have outgrown a food allergy, here are steps you can take to see if your allergy is gone:
In Future There Might Be Treatments For All Allergies
Even if your allergy is likely to be lifelong, help is at hand and all the experts are excited about whats currently available and what could help in future.
There is a treatment that has been approved for peanut allergy called Palforzia. It is not a cure but can reduce sensitivity so people have a much reduced risk of accidental reactions, says Prof. Mills before adding: And, there are therapies being developed for other foods like milk, and egg and tree nuts.
Prof. Santos finishes: There are many studies underway and others in development to assess the effect of various interventions in the development of food allergy. I am hopeful that we will be able to intervene and modify the course of the disease and prevent new cases in the future.
Recommended Reading: Can Pet Allergies Cause Migraines
Why Aren’t Allergies Taken Seriously
Severe allergies such as a nut or pollen allergy can lead to dangerous situations. Common symptoms include swelling of the throat and eyes. Others with allergies will experience anaphylaxis if exposed to even the smallest amount of allergen.
Even the very word “allergy” sounds non-serious and frivolous. If you asked most people about what they felt allergies were, they’d probably respond with, “Oh, it’s just a bit of sneezing, isn’t it?”
Don’t get me wrong I am not seeking special privilege for having allergies, far from it! More a quiet understanding that living with allergies can be severe and highly debilitating for some.
Can Food Allergies Go Away
Food allergies can go away depending on the age of onset and their type.
Soy, wheat, milk, and egg allergies begin in childhood and may be outgrown, but tree nut, peanut, and shellfish allergies are lifelong. Children may outgrow food allergies by the time they enter preschool, while cases that show up in adulthood tend to persist.
Recommended Reading: Can You Reverse A Food Allergy
How You Can Eliminate A Food Allergy
Its not completely clear how, but scientists think a combination of factors, from genetics to the environment, play a role in children developing allergies to food such as peanuts, milk or shellfish. Many children will outgrow their food allergies. But for those who dont, physicians have figured out a way to harness the bodys immune response to eliminate allergic reactions to food. Eli Silver, MD, a pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Childrens Hospital, explains.