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Children and Food Allergies Facts

Children and Food Allergies Facts

  • Food allergies are more likely in children than adults, affecting between 2 percent and 4 percent of children under age 6 and only 2 percent to 2.5 percent of adults.
  • The foods most likely to cause an allergic reaction in children are eggs, milk and peanuts.
  • Unlike adults, children can sometimes outgrow a food allergy. They are unlikely to outgrow allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shrimp, however.
  • Milk and soy allergies are the most common culprits in infants and younger children. These allergies do not always cause typical food allergy symptoms, such as hives and asthma, but may lead to colic, blood in the stools or poor growth.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding of infants for the first 6 to 12 months of life is often recommended to prevent the development of milk or soy allergies during infancy.
  • Some breastfeeding mothers also may need to avoid eating foods that a baby is allergic to, the foods can be transferred to the infant through the breast milk and result in a reaction.
  • Research shows that breastfeeding delays the onset of food allergies. Some research suggests that it also may prevent the development of food allergies later in life.
  • Delaying the introduction of solid foods until a baby is 6 months old may help delay the onset of food allergies.

Children with severe food allergies require special precaution. Parents and all caregivers must be informed on how to prevent and manage a child's allergic reaction, including the administration of epinephrine (adrenaline). Fatal food allergy reactions often occur outside the home and sometimes in a school setting. Parents need to make sure the school has a written emergency action plan providing instructions on recognizing and managing severe life-threatening allergies. Parents also should make sure that epinephrine is immediately accessible in the student's classroom and that multiple school staff members are trained in its administration.

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