New diagnostic code makes FPIES easier to research, diagnose, treat

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Food protein induced entercolitis syndrome (FPIES) is an affliction that is often misdiagnosed by pediatricians and which can be difficult to identify as a food allergy.

Until now, there has not been a well-accepted, universal description or diagnostic procedure for it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved a new International Classification of Diseases (ICD) code for FPIES which will help doctors identify the disease. It will also open avenues for research and, in some cases, make the condition something covered by insurance.

One thing that is not known about FPIES, for example, is how common it is. Because it has not been a universally recognized disease and because diagnosis is often wrong, no research has been compiled to find out its coverage in the population.

Difference between FPIES and food allergies

Many people with FPIES are so sensitive to foods that they can eat only a handful of things without feeling discomfort or worse. Parents of children with FPIES are often required to resort to hospitalizing the child before new foods can be introduced, as the reaction may not always be predictable. Doctors do what is called "challenge testing" with a new food being slowly introduced to gauge reaction.

The difference between more common food allergies, such as peanut allergies, and FPIES is that with FPIES, the reaction is all gastrointestinal. Reactions to milk and soy are most common, but many other foods, especially grains like rice and oats, can also be triggers. The reaction is usually delayed as well, making it harder to easily pinpoint the culprit without studied testing.

The new diagnostic code will help researchers learn more about these allergies and to find better treatments.

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