Can Children Overcome Food Allergies?
Of the eight most common food allergies found in children; milk, eggs, wheat and soy allergies are the easiest to outgrow. Some children are fortunate enough to outgrow these allergies by the time they are five or six years old. Tree nut and peanut allergies are seen in people of all ages, but only about 20% of children with peanut allergy have outgrown their allergy after 15 years of avoidance. We think the figure for tree nuts is about 10%. People with fish and shellfish allergies usually develop these later in life, although the allergy can be seen at any age and usually stays with the person for life.
While most food allergies start in childhood, they can develop at any time in a person’s life. It isn’t clear why, but some adults develop an allergy to a food they could once eat with no problem. Sometimes, a child outgrows a food allergy and it reappears later in adulthood. About 5% of children less than five years of age and 4% of kids 5 to 17 – that’s roughly one in 13 kids under age 18 – have at least one food allergy.
Researchers don’t fully understand why some kids grow out of their food allergies at a young age and some never grow out of them. However, recent studies have shown that some children can tolerate baked milk and egg. If they can, eating baked milk or egg can help speed up the resolution of food allergies in some children. If your child is allergic to milk or egg, consult your allergist before giving them these foods in baked form.
Until a child outgrows his food allergy, the best method of coping is to avoid the allergen altogether. Unlike food intolerance, even the smallest amount of an allergenic food may cause a reaction. When it comes to food intolerance (like lactose intolerance, for example), symptoms are typically dose-related. The same is true for food allergies but the doses are very small. It is important to remember that the severity of a food allergy reaction does not predict the severity of the next reaction.
Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is a valuable resource on the topic of outgrowing food allergies:
Peanut and tree nut allergies tend to develop in childhood. In the U.S., approximately three million people report allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. Studies show the number of children living with peanut allergy appears to have tripled between 1997 and 2008.
- Cow’s milk, egg and soy allergies typically begin in childhood and eventually may be outgrown. In the past, most children outgrew these allergies by school age. A recent study, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, indicated that children are taking longer to outgrow milk and egg allergies. Fortunately, the majority are allergy-free by age 16.
- Fish and shellfish allergies tend to be lifelong. More than 6.5 million adults are allergic to finned fish and shellfish.
Many parents who want a solution sooner than later have discovered the transformative benefits of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for their food allergic children. More than 80% of our patients who have been treated with OIT can now safely consume foods that once threatened their health. To learn more about the difference you can make in your child’s life with OIT, visit us today!