Food allergies can develop from birth, and some last a lifetime. Others are developed at different ages and may be outgrown. No matter when allergies stop or start, they can be a life-threatening problem for children.
Although food allergies may be managed more easily at home, they present different challenges for school-aged children. School nurses and administrative officials should be informed about food allergies, especially if they are severe enough to warrant medical intervention, such as medication.
Food allergies are quite common. Consider these allergy facts that can help parents better understand any issues their children might face.
• The Food Allergy Research and Education network says nearly 15 million people in the United States, many of whom are children, are affected by food allergies.
• One in 13 Canadians, or roughly 2.5 million people, are affected by a food allergy, according to estimates from the Allergy, Genes and Environmental Network.
• Around 7 percent of Canadian children under the age of 18 report having at least one food allergy.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions, such as asthma and other allergies.
• Food allergies are an immune system response to the food, not a case of digestive intolerance.
• Among food allergic children, peanuts are the most prevalent allergen, followed by milk and shellfish, says the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
• Food allergies can cause everything from mild reactions, such as itchiness or hives, to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction.
• Risk of food allergies increases when there is a parent who suffers from any type of allergic disease — even those beyond food allergies.
• A recent study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that children are taking longer to outgrow milk and egg allergies.
• Food avoidance remains the best way to prevent symptoms of food allergies. That is why reading product labels is vital.