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Feature Article

Assessing and managing IgE-mediated food allergies in children

Preeti Joshi, Katie Frith

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Abstract

The incidence of food allergy, and particularly peanut allergy, has increased substantially in Australia over the past decade. A thorough clinical history and specific testing should be conducted to identify the allergen. Allergen avoidance and education are currently the mainstays of treatment.

Key Points

  • More than one-third of children with IgE-mediated food allergy will react on their first known ingestion of a food.
  • Cow’s milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat cause more than 90% of food allergies in children.
  • Exclusion diets should only be undertaken with specialist advice because they may inadvertently worsen, rather than aid, the child’s situation.
  • Foods already tolerated in the child’s diet should not be removed if a skin prick test or serum-specific immunoglobulin E to that food is positive but there are no clinical signs of allergy to that food.
  • New evidence suggests that early introduction and regular ingestion of certain allergenic foods significantly reduces the risk of developing food allergy.
  • There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest anaphylaxis can occur from skin contact with an allergen.

    Picture credit: © Astier/BSIP/SPL

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