Food Allergy Guides
New Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy
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An expert panel sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has issued comprehensive U.S. guidelines to help you diagnose food allergy and manage the care of patients with food allergy. Additional topics covered by the guidelines include the prevalence of food allergy, natural history of food allergy and closely associated diseases, and management of acute allergic reactions to food, including anaphylaxis, a severe whole-body reaction. They also identify gaps about what is known about food allergy.
Food allergy has become a serious health concern in the United States. Recent studies estimate that food allergy affects nearly 5% of children younger than 5 years and 4% of teens and adults. Its prevalence appears to be on the rise; from 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children younger than 18 years. Children with food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies. Eight types of food account for over 90% of allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. For people with food allergies, reactions to these foods can range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips and hives to anaphylaxis and subsequent death, depending on the severity of the allergy. While several potential treatments appear promising, there are currently no treatments for food allergy; avoidance of the causative food agent is the only way to prevent complications.
The Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel is intended for use by primary care and family practice clinicians as well as specialists in areas such as allergy, pediatrics, internal medicine, dermatology, gastroenterology, emergency medicine, and pulmonary and critical care medicine.
A consumer-friendly version will be published in early 2011.
The guidelines were designed to establish consistency in terminology, definitions, diagnostic criteria, and patient management practices for the millions of Americans with food allergies who seek care across a broad array of healthcare providers. The panel used an independent, systematic literature review of food allergy and their own expert clinical opinions to prepare draft guidelines. Public comments were invited and considered as well during the development of the guidelines.
The guidelines include numerous tables and charts, including inpatient and outpatient treatment recommendations for adults and children (Table 1).
More information on the guidelines may be found at the NIAID Food Allergy Guidelines portal. The available information includes a document titled Frequently Asked Questions about the guidelines; information for patients and their families may be found at What’s in It for Patients.
Published on January 27, 2011
- NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel. Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel. Washington, DC: US Department of Helath and Human Services; 2010.
- Branum AM, Lukacs SL. Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations. NCHS data brief, No 10. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2008.
- Sampson HA. Update on food allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004;113(5):805-819.