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What is a food allergy?

     As with any allergy, a food allergy develops when the immune system attacks a normally harmless substance and creates specific antibodies for this substance. From this point on, whenever the food allergy sufferer eats the food to which they're allergic, the antibodies respond by releasing histamine, which causes allergic symptoms to appear.

How many people have food allergies?

     Approximately 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies.

How many people die from food allergies?

     Each year about 150 people, mostly children and young adults, die from anaphylaxis due to a food allergy.

What is anaphylaxis?

     Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening, multi-system allergic reaction, usually accompanied by a drop in blood pressure and difficulty breathing.

Who is at risk for food allergies?

    According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, three to eight percent of children will have an adverse reaction to food at some point, and one to two percent of children have true food allergies. Those at risk include people who have a family history of allergies and people who have other kinds of allergies, including asthma. Asthma sufferers are at higher risk for experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction to food.

Do children outgrow food allergies?

     Many children outgrow food allergies by age four; however, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish usually last a lifetime.

How can I prevent food allergies from developing?

     Various studies have suggested that mothers can decrease the risk of their children developing food allergies by avoiding allergenic foods (especially cow’s milk) during pregnancy, breastfeeding as long as possible and avoiding allergenic foods while breastfeeding, delaying the introduction of solid foods and waiting at least 18 months to introduce commonly allergenic foods to their child’s diet, and making sure their child eats a wide variety of foods. Parents should also try to avoid feeding young children processed foods with additives and dyes.

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