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Food Allergies. What are they and can we prevent them?. Heather Mileski, RD Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, MCH. Outline. Define allergy Differentiate between types of allergies Discuss diagnostic tools available Treatment

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Food Allergies

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food allergies

Food Allergies

What are they and can we prevent them?

Heather Mileski, RD Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, MCH

  • Define allergy
  • Differentiate between types of allergies
  • Discuss diagnostic tools available
  • Treatment
  • Consider preventative measures
what is the incidence of food allergy in young children
What is the incidence of food allergy in young children?
  • <10%
  • 10-20%
  • 20-30%
  • >30%

Garcia-Careaga, 2005


Allergy – “a pathological immune reaction to a food protein”

Adverse food reaction – “an ill effect as a result of the intake of food”

  • Intolerances, sensitivities, enzyme deficiency (e.g. galactosemia, disaccharidase, etc), pharmacological effect (e.g. food dyes, preservatives, MSG, caffeine, etc)
type 1 ige mediated immune
Type 1: IgE-mediated (immune)
  • Immediate Hypersensitivity Disorder
    • Symptoms occur in minutes to hours
    • Can become anaphylactic
    • Common triggers are milk, soy, egg, peanut, shellfish, wheat
    • 80% resolve after several years with the exception of peanut and shellfish

Garcia-Careaga et al, 2005

type 1 ige mediated
Type 1: IgE-mediated
  • Oral Allergy Syndrome/Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome
    • Symptoms occur in minutes to hours
    • Reaction limited to oral cavity
    • Rarely systemic symptoms
    • Common triggers are RAW fruit and vegetables
    • Cross-reaction with airborne allergens
type iii and iv non immune mediated
Type III and IV:Non-Immune Mediated
  • Proctocolitis (Cow’s Milk Protein Colitis)
    • Occurs in infancy resolves between 6 months-2 years
  • Dietary Food Enteropathy
    • Occurs in infancy, usually resolves in first 2 years of life
mixed ige and non ige
Mixed IgE and Non-IgE
  • Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis
    • Eosinophilic infiltration of esophagus, stomach and small bowel mucosa
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis
  • Both conditions diagnosed by biopsy
other adverse food reactions
Other Adverse Food Reactions
  • Lactose Intolerance
    • Reaction to milk sugar NOT protein
  • Dietary Fructose Intolerance
    • Reaction to the sugar fructose
  • Food Sensitivities e.g. gluten
conventional diagnostic tools

Skin prick testing

RAST– blood test

Double-blind placebo control challenge


Stool samples for blood, pus cells

Endoscopy with biopsy

Elimination diets

Conventional Diagnostic Tools
alternative diagnostic tools
Alternative Diagnostic Tools

Herman and Drost, 2004

  • Avoidance
    • IgE-mediated allergies require strict avoidance of the allergen
    • Adverse food rxns are dose-dependent
  • Education
    • Children and parents need detailed education on label reading
is prevention possible
Is Prevention Possible?
  • No evidence for prevention in general population
  • Some evidence in high risk infants
    • High risk = first degree relative with atopy (eczema, food allergy, asthma, allergic rhinitis)
prevention guidelines aap only for high risk infants
Prevention Guidelines – AAPOnly for High Risk Infants


  • Pregnancy possibly restrict peanut
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months
  • Eliminate peanuts & nuts from lactation diet (consider eggs, cow’s milk, fish)
  • If bottle-fed use hypoallergenic formula (extensive of partial hydrolysate)
  • Solids at 6 mo; cow’s milk at 12 mo; eggs at 24 mo; peanuts, nuts and fish at 36 mo
prevention guidelines 2004 euro academy of allerg and clin immunol
Prevention Guidelines 2004 Euro Academy of Allerg and Clin Immunol
  • Breastfeed exclusively for 4 months
  • If bottle-fed use extensively hydrolyzed formula
  • Solids at 4 to 6 months
  • Additional studies required to demonstrate any preventive effects of further dietary restriction
prevention guidelines aap only for high risk infants19
Prevention Guidelines – AAPOnly for High Risk Infants


  • No dietary restrictions during pregnancy or lactation
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months
  • If bottle-fed use extensively hydrolyzed formulas
  • Solids at 4 to 6 months, no evidence to support delayed introduction of foods considered to be allergenic
is waiting better
Is Waiting Better?
  • Israeli population and peanuts
  • Swedish population and fish
  • German GINI study
take home messages
Take Home Messages
  • Encourage exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months (WHO guidelines)
  • If bottle-feeding use extensively hydrolyzed formula if high risk infant
  • Avoid introduction of solid foods until 4-6 months of age
  • Stay tuned, this isn’t the end of the story!

Garcia-Careaga et al. Gastrointestinal Manifestations of Food Allergies in Pediatric Patients. Nutr in Clin Prac 20:526-535, 2005.

Herman, P & Drost, L. Evaluating the Clinical Relevance of Food Sensitivity Tests: A Single-Subject Experiment. Alt Med Review 9(2):198-207.

Joneja, J. Food Allergy in Adults. Dietitians of Canada Current Issues, 2007.

Joshi et al. Interpretation of Commercial Food Ingredient Labels by Parents of Food-Allergic Children. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 90:84-89, 2003.

Muraro et al. Dietary Prevention of Allergic Diseases in Infants and Small Children. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 15:291-307, 2004.

Pyrhonen et al. Occurrence of parent-reported food hypersensitivities and food allergies among children aged 1-4 yr. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 20:328-338, 2009.

Wennergren, G. What if it is the other way around? Early introduction of peanut and fish seems to be better than avoidance. Acta Paediatrica 98:1085-1087, 2009.