A food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein (an allergen) as a threat and attacks, releasing histamine and other chemicals that trigger an allergic reaction. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization, 15 million people in the United States are affected with food allergies, including one in 13 children.
Almost every food is capable of inducing an allergic reaction. Below are the most common food allergies:
Allergies are mostly inherited. A child has a higher chance in developing certain food allergies if one or both parents have food allergies. Often, a child can be allergic to the same food(s) as parents. Children with other allergic conditions such as eczema or asthma are more likely to have food allergies than children who do not have other allergic conditions. Your child may have a food allergy if symptoms develop within two hours of eating certain foods.
Some children suffer from anaphylaxis, a severe anaphylactic (allergic) reaction, requiring immediate treatment. Reactions can occur within minutes to two hours after contact and can range from mild to severe.
The following steps may help determine whether you or your child have a food allergy. Always consult your physician before, and never attempt testing food(s) if your child has had a severe or anaphylactic reaction.
At least half of children who develop a food allergy during the first year of life outgrow the allergens by the time they are 2 or 3 years old. Some reactions to food such as milk or soy are more often outgrown than others like peanuts tree nuts and seafood, which can last a lifetime.