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How common are food allergies?

Very often food intolerances or other non-allergic food reactions are confused with food allergies which leads to the mistaken belief that food allergies are more common than they actually are.

About every fourth parent reports one or more adverse food reactions of their child. However, only 5% to 10 % of all young children are truly suffering from food allergy, but they are getting more frequent particularly in developed countries. Most food allergies are acquired in the first years of life and disappear again over time. Children who suffer from one food allergy might be particularly hypersensitive to other foods as well and certain foods are more likely to cause allergic symptoms than others, in particular:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Hen’s eggs
  • Peanuts and tree nuts
  • Soya beans
  • Wheat

This doesn’t mean that you have to completely avoid giving your child these foods unless you or your child’s doctor or dietitian has been able to determine that they are indeed a trigger for an allergic reaction in your child. There is no convincing scientific evidence to prove that you can reduce the risk of your child getting an allergy at a later stage by avoiding feeding them potentially allergenic foods.

A correct diagnosis is important to ensure the best treatment and a nutritionally balanced diet. Please advise your child’s doctor and/or dietitian once you have recognised possible food allergic related symptoms!

ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition. J PediatrGastroenterolNutr, Vol. 46, No. 1, January 2008
Wood.PEDIATRICS Vol. 111 No. 6 June 2003