There is public confusion regarding our body’s reaction to certain foods. On a basic level, an adverse food reaction refers to any reaction following the ingestion of a food. One cause might be a food allergy, the result of an abnormal immunologic response following the ingestion of a food; the other reaction might be the consequence of food intolerance, caused by a non-immunologic mechanism.
Food allergies (immunologic) can have responses that are IgE mediated (oral allergy syndrome, analphylaxis) or IgG mediated (cyclic food allergy, protein-induced enterocolitis, gluten sensitive enteropathy/celiac sprue).
Infants and toddlers have a much more permeable GI tract than adults, and are therefore very susceptible to food allergies. These can be difficult and can be mediated through both IgE and IgG.
Food allergies can cause vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and colic, among other symptoms.
Major allergenic foods in children are milk, egg, soy, wheat, tree nuts, and peanuts; among adults, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish are the most likely causes.
One to two percent of adults and six to eight percent of infants and children have fixed IgE mediated food allergies.
Strategies include elimination diets and oral challenge eating.
Diagnosing food allergies in children is based on a history of the child’s experience.
Treatment is mainly through dietary manipulation, and can include medical therapy and immunotherapy.
If there is a positive family history for food allergies, then the first prevention steps should take place at birth.