• food hypersensitivity;
  • children;
  • atopic dermatitis;
  • clinical symptom;
  • food allergens;
  • food challenge

The aims of this work were to investigate, in children and adolescents, the clinical aspects of food hypersensitivity and the distribution of allergens, in a prospective and descriptive study. Five hundred and forty-four pediatric cases from a series of 703 patients with food allergies, confirmed by food challenge, were studied. Their clinical characteristics and the distribution according to allergen were investigated. There was a family history of atopic disease in 70.5% of patients. Atopic dermatitis was the main symptom (275/544; 50.5% of patients), followed by urticaria and angio-edema (165/544; 30%). There was asthma in 8.6% of patients (47 children) and anaphylaxis in 4.5% (27 patients). The rarest signs were rhinitis (n=2; 0.3%), oral allergy syndrome (n=8; 1.4%), and gastrointestinal signs (n=11; 2%). Five allergens accounted for 78% of food hypersensitivity. These allergens were: eggs (36%), peanuts (24%), cow’s milk (8%), mustard (6%), and cod (4%). Peanut was the most common allergen for children over the age of 3 yr. In this selected population, sensitivity of individuals to more than three foods was unusual (5%). Atopic dermatitis was the main symptom of food allergy in children. The symptoms changed over time, with respiratory disorders, oral allergy syndrome and ocular problems occuring later. Anaphylaxis also occured mostly in older children. Five allergens were responsible for more than three-quarters of food allergies in children. However, the number of allergens implicated was higher for the group of children over the age of 6 yr than for younger children.