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Home > Medical Services > Food & Nutrition Services > What You Need to Know About Food Allergies
Published on August 27, 2018
If it feels like you hear more about food allergies than you used to, it’s probably because you do.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports the prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. As kids head back to school and navigate the lunchroom experience, here are useful food allergy information and resources.
Roughly one out of every 13 children has a food allergy (approximately two kids per classroom), and nearly a third of those children are allergic to more than one food. Children with a food allergy are also more likely to have other allergic conditions like asthma or eczema.
Reactions can range from mild (like an itchy mouth) to severe (like difficulty breathing). Childhood hospitalizations for food allergy reactions tripled between the late 1990s and the mid-2000s.
According to www.foodallergy.org, more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions. The eight most common are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustaceans.
Food allergies are caused by both genetics and environment, so researchers have a hard time pinning down specific triggers. Some people also mistake food intolerance for an allergy. For example, if you feel bloated after drinking milk, you may be lactose intolerant – not necessarily allergic.
Unfortunately, food allergies can limit or change kids’ participation in certain activities and lead to bullying. It’s important to talk to children without food allergies about being kind to kids who have them.
It can be complicated to diagnose a food allergy, especially if reactions are not severe. Still, you should see your child’s doctor or a pediatric allergist if you suspect your child may be allergic to certain foods. Do not assume an allergy when it may be a coincidence or an intolerance.
While there is no cure for food allergies, there are ways to help your child. Avoiding certain foods is the main solution, but they may also need an epinephrine pen on hand for more severe circumstances. It’s also possible they will outgrow their allergies.
If you or your child needs a primary care provider or a pediatrician with whom you can discuss potential food allergies, fill out our Find a Doc form and we can help connect you.
Food Allergy Facts and Statistics
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
So What’s the Big Deal about Food Allergies?