Food Allergies

Are peanut and tree nut allergies lifelong?

Recent research has shown that a small number of patients, approximately 20%, with peanut or tree nut may allergy may “outgrow” their sensitivity.  These individuals tend to have milder initial reactions and low levels of sensitivity on skin or blood testing.  These patients should be followed by their allergist with periodic skin or blood testing to see if they are losing their sensitivity.

At what age is it safe to give my child peanuts?

It is generally recommended by allergists and pediatricians that peanuts and tree nuts not be introduced until three years of age. In an allergic child or a child from a highly allergic family, one can make the case of not introducing peanuts or tree nuts until the child has been allergy tested to these foods.

Can babies be allergic?

Yes. As a general rule, the younger the child, the more likely the allergy is caused by food(s). Once the child is 3-4 years, environmental allergies become an important consideration.

Can I take allergy shots for food allergies?

Unfortunately, no. There is, however, promising research which may allow desensitization to certain foods by a process of oral tolerance through allergy drops. There is no such treatment commercially available presently, but stay tuned for more details as they emerge.

Can reflux be a sign of allergy?

Excessive spitting and vomiting in the newborn and infant can be the result of milk allergy or soy allergy. One should consider the possibility of food allergies in the young child who presents with symptoms of reflux.

Do I need to carry my epipen with me at all times?

If you have a history of anaphylaxis or have been identified as high risk for a serious allergic reaction, then an appropriate epinephrine auto-injector ( Epipen or Twinject) should be with you at all times. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can occur quickly upon exposure or ingestion of an allergen and the sooner it is administered, the more likely it is to stop the reaction. If the device is not readily available, critical moments can be lost, resulting in severe symptoms, even death. So, yes, you need to have your epipen with you at all times!

If a baby is allergic to a milk formula, can he be given a soy formula?

Pediatricians and allergists will usually suggest a soy based formula if a baby has a milk allergy or milk intolerance. It must be kept in mind that approximately 20% of milk allergic babies are also allergic to soy.

If I am allergic to peanuts, can I eat tree nuts?

There are those individuals who are allergic to peanuts but are not allergic to tree nuts, and visa versa. However, until allergy tested to identify exactly which nuts one is allergic to, it is critically important for the peanut allergic individual to avoid all tree nuts and the tree nut allergic individual to avoid peanuts.

If I am allergic to shellfish, does that mean I am allergic to x-ray (radiocontrast) dye?

No. This is an old wives’ tale that refuses to go away. It is so ingrained in medical myths that even some physicians continue to believe it. To set the record straight, there is no relationship between allergy to iodine used in radiocontrast dyes and fish or shellfish.

If my child has an egg allergy, can he receive the MMR vaccine?

The vast majority of egg allergic children can safely receive the MMR vaccine and other vaccines grown in egg culture. For those children with a history of severe egg allergy or a history of anaphylaxis, it is suggested that they be allergy tested to the vaccine itself prior to its administration.

If one is allergic to peanuts, can they eat foods cooked in peanut oil?

The vast majority of peanut allergic individuals have absolutely no problems eating foods cooked in peanut oil. If properly processed (heat processed), the oil of the peanut is devoid of the allergenic protein which is present in the pulp of the peanut itself. One needs to be cautious however with peanut oil processed outside of the U.S. and caution should be taken with natural, cold processed, or flavored oils.

Is sesame seed allergy common?

Sesame is not include in the “big 8” food allergies ( milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy, wheat), but it is becoming more common in the U.S. In the mid eastern countries where sesame is a staple in the diet, it is now recognized to be one of the most common causes of food allergy reactions.

What are the most common food allergies?

The most common “big 8” food allergies include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy, and wheat.

What grains must be avoided in a gluten free diet?

In a gluten free diet, one must totally avoid wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, and triticale. The suitability of oats in the gluten-free diet is still somewhat controversial, although most gastroenterologists strongly recommend avoiding oats.  Some research suggests that oats in themselves are gluten free, but that they are virtually always contaminated by other grains during distribution or processing.

What is Elecare and Neocate?

EleCare and Neocate are amino acid formulas which are used by children with severe or multiple food allergies, or who are sensitive to milk and soy based formulas. They are clinically documented to be hypoallergenic, meaning it is tolerated by at least 90% of subjects allergic to the protein in cow’s milk.

What is the difference between a wheat allergy and Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance)?

Wheat allergy can occur in any individual and and is characterized by an IgE-mediated, or classic allergic response to wheat protein. These individuals must only avoid wheat, but can tolerate other grains. Most wheat-allergic children outgrow the allergy. Celiac disease, sometimes called celiac “sprue”, is a permanent intolerance to gluten and is hereditary.  This disease requires a lifelong restriction of gluten.

What’s the story with red dye allergy?

Red dye allergy occurs when a child or adult ingests red food coloring, which is also known as cochineal extract or carmine. This type of dye is processed using dried insects, particularly the cochineal bug found in the Canary Islands and South America. According to several studies, the red dye #2 is one of the most common food colorings that causes red dye allergy in children.

Why does my mouth and throat itch when I eat certain fruit?

Mouth itching upon eating fruits is likely a manifestation of the Oral Allergy Syndrome.  In actuality, this is not a direct food allergy, but rather represents cross-reactivity between distant remnants of tree or weed pollen still found in certain fruits and vegetables.  This phenomenon is only seen in tree and weed allergic patients, and is limited to ingestion of only uncooked fruits or vegetables.  It is perhaps more aptly named the pollen-food syndrome. Although uncomfortable, this condition is rarely serious.


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