About 60 percent to 80 percent of young children with a milk or egg allergy are able to have those foods without a reaction by the time they reach age 16. Recent studies suggest that children with egg or milk allergies who can eat those foods in a baked form, such as a muffin, without an allergic reaction are very likely to be able to tolerate plain egg or plain milk in the future.
Some other food allergies are much less likely to be outgrown. These foods are also common allergens and include peanuts, tree nuts, finned fish and crustacea. They tend to cause a more severe food allergy reaction. Only about 20 percent of children who have a peanut allergy outgrow it. An even lower number of those with tree nut allergies -- 14 percent-- will lose that allergy. And only 4 percent to 5 percent of children with a fish or crustacean (shellfish) allergy will go on to be able to eat those foods without a reaction later in life.
In many cases, a blood test or an allergy skin test, combined with a thorough assessment of a child’s health history, can help determine how likely it is for that child to outgrow his or her food allergy.
If it seems a child has outgrown a food allergy, a test called a food challenge may be recommended.
It involves giving the child small amounts of the food in a controlled setting. A very small amount is given first. It is then doubled every 15 to 30 minutes until the child eats one serving size.
This test is not recommended for children who are at high risk of anaphylaxis.
If your child has a food allergy, it is a good idea to work with a doctor who specializes in childhood allergies.
An allergist can help you monitor and manage a food allergy over time as your child grows. -- Nancy Ott, M.D., Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to email@example.com. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.