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Food allergy update: more than a peanut of a problem


  • Conflicts of interest: None.

Dr. Robert.A. Schwartz, md, mph
New Jersey Medical School
185 South Orange Avenue
NJ 07103-2714


Food allergies have become a significant medical and legal concern for children worldwide, as there is a rising incidence of potentially fatal hypersensitivity reactions. The most common foods implicated include cow milk, wheat, egg, soy, peanut, tree nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and pistachios, fish and shellfish. The majority of food allergies represent an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity reaction to specific proteins found in foods. Peanut allergy, in particular, is a significant food allergy responsible for the majority of patients with food-induced anaphylaxis. Even trace quantities to food proteins in the sensitized individual can lead to fatal reactions. There is often a rapid onset of symptoms after exposure, with prominent cutaneous findings of urticaria, angioedema, or diffuse nonspecific dermatitis. The majority of children outgrow allergies to milk, soy, egg, and wheat. However, allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, and seafood are usually lifelong conditions, as few outgrow it. Children with food allergies and their families should be knowledgeable of management strategies for the condition, including carrying and properly administering self-injectable epinephrine. New immunotherapeutic options are being investigated and appear promising.