Friday, December 14, 2012

Good News! Most Kids Outgrow Food Allergies

Picture Source: Food Allergy Foundation

Many children nowadays have very limited diets due to their food allergies. It is a challenge for even a dietitian to get in all the nutrients when working with someone who is allergic to soy, milk, and wheat. However, there is hope! It is estimated that 85% of children who are allergic to milk and eggs will outgrow that, and most allergic to soy and wheat will outgrow that by 10 years of age, many by 5 years. Peanuts are less common to outgrow, with only about 20% of those kids being able to safely consume peanuts later in life. Only about 9% of children with tree-nut allergies ever outgrow them.

Instead of just assuming that your child will always be allergic to a food or foods and never allowing them to consume them, have them re-tested with the IgE antibody test, especially if they haven’t had any reactions recently. If your child shows up as no longer allergic it will make their life (and yours!) much easier and more enjoyable. There are many health benefits in all the major allergens (soy, wheat, tree-nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, peanuts), so it is a shame to unnecessarily avoid a food if a child (or even adult) has outgrown it. 

On a similar note, many of my clients have recently invested in “food intolerance” panel testing, and find that they are intolerant to dozens of foods (gluten, oats, buckwheat, soy, milk, most fruit, eggs, many vegetables, garlic, onions, etc). At that point, it is important to speak with a doctor about whether you are actually having any negative reactions to eating that food and if avoiding it is completely necessary. If you just go by what the "intolerance panel" shows you possibly intolerant to, you could be risking malnutrition. Try eating a healthy diet that eliminates most grains, fruits, veggies, and dairy- it cannot be done! I do always encourage my clients to try going at least 2 weeks without a food that they think is the source of a problem. For example, if a client thinks dairy is causing them stomach problems, I have them go on a dairy-free diet for 2 weeks. If nothing improves, bring back dairy, because that most likely isn't the culprit.

References: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology;  The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

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