Will Your Child Outgrow a Food Allergy?

Approximately six to eight percent of children younger than three years of age experience food-allergic reactions. A small percentage of infants can be allergic to milk, egg, peanut and soy. Fortunately, the vast majority of these children will "outgrow" their food allergy before the end of their first decade, and often before the age of 5. Overall, about 85 percent of milk and egg-allergic children will "outgrow" their food allergy and virtually all children appear to "outgrow" soy allergy, while only about 20 percent of peanut-allergic children will "outgrow" their allergy.

When and how to re-evaluate for food allergy.
Since most children will "outgrow" their food allergy (except in cases of peanut, tree nut, fish, or shellfish allergy), it is important that children be re-evaluated to determine whether they have "outgrown" their food allergy. While skin tests suggest the presence of food allergy, they are not very useful for indicating when a food allergy has been "outgrown."  Most patients will continue to have a positive skin test for many years after they can tolerate a specific food. However, if a skin test is performed and found to be negative, it is highly likely that the child will be able to tolerate the food in question. 

The measurement of food-specific IgE antibodies in the blood has been found to be quite useful for predicting who will experience allergic reactions to egg, milk, peanut, and fish. Monitoring these antibody levels appears to be helpful in determining when a child may have "outgrown" his or her food allergy.

Peanut allergy is less likely than others to be outgrown.
A recent study found that about 20 percent of children who experience a peanut-allergic reaction in the first one or two years of life will "outgrow" their allergy. It is recommended that young children who have not experienced an allergic reaction to peanut in two to three years be tested to determine their peanut-specific IgE level. These children should undergo supervised food challenges by an allergist to determine whether they have lost their peanut allergy. 

If you have any further questions please contact our hotline:

Ellen Epstein, M.D. FAAAAI
Adult and Pediatric Allergy
165 N. Village Ave.-Suite 141
Rockville Centre, NY 11570

Dr. Ellen Epstein is a Board Certified Adult and Pediatric Allergist in practice since 1986. Dr. Epstein earned her M.D. degree from New York University School of Medicine. She teaches at and is on the staff of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Franklin Hospital Medical Center and South Nassau Communities Hospital. She and her staff provide expert professional treatment in a warm and caring atmosphere.


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