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What to Know About Food Allergies

Date: November 2, 2016

A food allergy is a group of disorders brought about by the way the body’s immune system responds to specific food proteins.  As per the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), children who have allergic reactions to inhaled substance such as mold, dust and pollen, are more likely to develop food allergies.  According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS), approximately 327,000 New Jerseyans suffer from food allergies.  Nearly 100,000 of these are children. 

Of all the food allergies out there, 90% are caused by the following eight food items:

  • Milk                 
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Tree Nuts (ie:  walnuts & pecans)
  • Peanuts
  • Fish (in general)
  • Shellfish

In many cases, children will outgrow allergies to some of these foods such as milk, eggs and soy.  Typically allergies to nuts and certain fish, such as shellfish, will continue into adulthood.  With these allergies come a variety of symptoms and reactions such as: swelling of the tongue, mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, loss of consciousness and possible death.  A severe reaction to a particular food may develop rapidly and involve many organs.  This process is known as anaphylaxis.  Food allergies are the leading cause of this condition in children.  This condition or reaction is typically right after consumption, but may also take hours to onset.  The only proven way to control this condition or any other reactions to certain foods is to refrain from eating the specific food causing the allergy.  Sometimes, even being in the vicinity of certain food can cause a reaction or be dangerous.  As a result, many schools have enacted policies over the recent years calling for a nut-free food policy. 

Here are some ways to help avoid or protect against food allergies:

  • Get tested by an allergist
  • If you have known allergies, make sure the chef knows when eating out
  • If going to a party, make sure the host knows in advance of your allergy
  • Read labels very carefully
  • Speak with a physician on how to prepare oneself to counter an allergic attack
  • Educate yourself and educate your children

 

If you would like more information on food allergies, please go to the following websites:

http://www.nfsmi.org/documentlibraryfiles/PDF/20140912034952.pdf

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAllergens/ucm2006768.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/foodallergies/publications.htm

http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/resourcespre.php?id=113