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General information on food allergy

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Food allergies affect millions of families; as many as 2 percent of the general population has some kind of food allergy, while 6 to 8 percent of children experience them as well.

While it’s true that many children will outgrow their allergies, many serious food allergies like peanut, tree nuts and seafood last a lifetime.

Allergies by age

The most common food allergies for children are milk and egg. In adults, the prevalent allergies are fish and shellfish. If you suspect you or your child has a food allergy, see an allergist. For your child, find a pediatric allergist who can help with the specific needs of children.

Allergies can cause eczema and asthma

Many people assume food allergies will reveal themselves as causing swollen gums or throat, stomach ache and indigestion, perhaps hives and patchy red skin. However, food allergies can show up in a variety of ways including lingering eczema and asthma. About 35 percent of children with moderate to severe eczema have IgE mediated food allergies. About 6 percent of children who have asthma also have food allergies and those allergies will trigger an episode.

Allergies are linked to geography

Food allergies tend to be regional. People who live with certain regional food preferences are more likely to develop allergies to those foods. Americans living in the south will have different allergies than Americans living on the west coast. Allergies are a product of exposure to local allergens in combination with unique immune reactions present since birth.

Most common food allergies

The top 10 allergens are:

  1. Dairy
  2. Eggs
  3. Fish
  4. Peanuts
  5. Tree nuts (including walnut, almond, cashew and pecan)
  6. Sesame
  7. Shellfish and other seafood
  8. Soy
  9. Wheat
  10. Gluten (found not only in wheat but also in barley, rye and other grains)

Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology on Food Allergy, Dr. Russell Faust

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