Food Allergies in Children
Food Allergies in Children and Adults

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There was a 50% increase in food allergy in children between the years 1997 and 2011, according to the  Centers for Disease Control. The increase is naturally leading to more adults living with food allergy, and also an increasing number of adults are being diagnosed for the first time.(1)

Researchers are working to determine factors that may be causing the increase. One theory is that parents are avoiding introducing potentially allergenic foods to young children. Once a child does encounter the food, the immune system reacts abnormally. The “hygiene hypothesis” suggests that a child’s gut biome is affected when the child is not exposed to enough microorganisms. The immune system then mistakenly reacts to food proteins as if they were infectious agents. A third theory is that a lack of sunlight (for example not playing outdoors) results in a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system.(2)

The most common food allergies to affect adults are peanuts, fish, shellfish and tree nuts.(3) Food allergies are diagnosed by a skin prick test. If a reaction to an allergen is observed, a blood test is done to determine the levels of IgE antibodies. Once the allergy is confirmed, patients must work to always avoid the allergen, and also carry with them an EpiPen®, in order to administer to themselves an injection of epinephrine in the event of an allergic reaction.(4)

(1) Food Allergy Research and Education, The Food Allergy Epidemic, https://www.foodallergy.org/

(2) Robertson, S., reviewed by Logan, J. M.D., Medical News/Life Sciences, What’s Driving the Recent Rise in Food Allergies, https://www.news-medical.net/

(3) Li, J. M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic: Food Allergy: Can It Develop Later in Life, https://www.mayoclinic.org/

(4) Pierce, S., Texas Medical Center, Adult-Onset Food Allergies: More Common Than You Think, https://www.tmc.edu/

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