According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about three million US children have a food or digestive allergy – an 18 percent increase over the past 10 years. Eight types of food account for 90 percent of these food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Cooking allergy-free meals is a necessary – and for many, daunting – adjustment. Read on for more information about food allergies, including three family-friendly allergy-free recipes.
Food allergies and your kids
The CDC report, released October 2008, indicates that 3.8 percent of boys and 4.1 percent of girls have food allergies. If your children are one of the three million with a food allergy, they are two
to four times more likely than other children to have asthma and other allergies, as well.
The report found that in 2007, 29 percent of children with a food allergy also had asthma, compared to 12 percent of children with no food allergies.
About 27 percent had eczema or other skin allergies compared to eight percent of most children.
Thirty percent had respiratory allergies compared with nine percent of the general population under 18 years old.
Food allergy symptoms
Reactions to foods that are allergenic range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips to hives, and sometimes even death in the most severe of cases. A review published in
the medical journal American Family Physician in June 2008, indicates that food allergy is the leading cause of nondrug-related anaphylaxis.
However, experts say that many people – children included – often blame food allergies when they really aren’t allergic. Studies suggest that only 10 percent of those people who
believe they have a food allergy actually have one. There are ways to figure out if your child has a bona fide allergy to foods.
Food allergy testing
No one knows how or why children develop food allergies or why some children outgrow them and others remain allergic for life. Regardless, getting a proper diagnosis can prevent more serious
conditions and, in some cases, even save your child’s life.
If you suspect that your child has a food allergy, talk to your doctor or an allergist. They may suggest the skin prick test, serum allergy specific IgE concentration test, double blind food
challenge, and/or food elimination diet.
In the meantime, don’t let your child eat the offending food. If you aren’t sure what food caused the allergic reaction, you may consider keeping your child’s diet free of milk,
eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat until you can touch base with your healthcare provider.
For more information and food allergy alerts, visit FoodAllergy.org.