Food allergies affect millions of people. About 2% of the general population has some kind of food allergy and 6% to 8% of children are dealing with these health issues as well. Many children do outgrow their allergies, but unfortunately, many serious allergies like peanut, tree nuts and seafood are there for life.
Allergies cause eczema and asthma
Food allergies can manifest in a variety of ways. Approximately 35% of children with moderate to severe eczema have IgE mediated food allergies. About 6% of children who have asthma also have food allergies and those allergies will trigger an episode.
Allergies will vary regionally
It may be important to note that food allergies tend to be regional as well. This means that people who live with certain regional food preferences are more likely to develop allergies to those foods. Americans living in the south will have different allergies than Americans living in the Pacific Northwest. Allergies are a product of exposure to allergens in combination with unique immune reactions present since birth.
So what are the foods that affect us the most? Keeping in mind these are regional and not everyone has the same reaction, the top ten offenders are:
- Tree nuts including walnut, almond, cashew, pecan)
- Shellfish and other seafood
- Gluten – found not only in wheat, but also barley, rye, and other grains
Allergies vary by age
The biggest food allergies for children are milk and egg. In adults, the most common are fish and shellfish. The most severe reaction, anaphylaxis which can be fatal, comes most often from peanuts and tree nuts.
If you suspect you or your child has a food allergy, see an allergist. For your child look for a pediatric allergist who can help with those specific needs.