Applied Evidence

Managing food allergy in children: An evidence-based update

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A retrospective study showed that, whereas 19% of patients reacted during an open food challenge, only 2% required epinephrine.33 Another study showed that 89% of children whose serum IgE testing was positive for specific foods were able to reintroduce those foods into the diet after a reassuring oral food challenge.34

Other diagnostic tests. The basophil activation assay, measurement of total serum IgE, atopy patch tests, and intradermal tests have been used, but are not recommended, for making the diagnosis of food allergy.4

How can food allergy be managed?

Medical options are few. No approved treatment exists for food allergy. However, it’s important to appropriately manage acute reactions and reduce the risk of subsequent reactions.1 Parents or other caregivers can give an H1 antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine, to infants and children with acute non-life-threatening symptoms. More severe symptoms require rapid administration of epinephrine.1 Auto-injectable epinephrine should be prescribed for parents and caregivers to use as needed for emergency treatment of anaphylaxis.

Team approach. A multidisciplinary approach to managing food allergy—involving physicians, school nurses, dietitians, and teachers, and using educational materials—is ideal. This strategy expands knowledge about food allergies, enhances correct administration of epinephrine, and reduces allergic reactions.1

Avoidance of food allergens can be challenging. Parents and caregivers should be taught to interpret the list of ingredients on food packages. Self-recognition of allergic reactions reduces the likelihood of a subsequent severe allergic reaction.35

Continue to: Importance of individualized care


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