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Childhood food sensitivity ‘normal’, says study

By staff reporter , 14-Aug-2009

The occurrence of food hypersensitivity in children is common, and not necessarily linked to allergy, says a new study from Denmark.

According to findings published in Allergy, there also exists a discrepancy between sensitisation, self-reported food-related symptoms and confirmed food hypersensitivity.

Results from the Danish Allergy Research Centre cohort study indicate the need for better testing of children, as well as deepen our understanding of childhood sensitivity to certain foods, particularly milk, egg, and peanut.

“Sensitisation to foods in young children without food allergy seems to be a normal phenomenon,” wrote the researchers from Odense University Hospital.

“The discrepancy between sensitization, self-reported food-related symptoms and confirmed food hypersensitivity illustrates the need to combine parental reporting, clinical examination and relevant sensitization with standardized oral challenge in order to establish diagnosis,” added the researchers.

“Most adverse reactions to food in children are IgE-mediated, and the majority of children with FHS are additionally sensitized to foods, which they tolerate.”

Growing consumer concern and public awareness of food allergies and intolerance is boosting the free-from food market, and has enjoyed sales growth of over 300 per cent in the UK since 2000, according to market analyst Mintel.

An estimated four per cent of adults and eight per cent of children in the 380m EU population suffer from food allergies, according to the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients' Associations.

A previous study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Vol. 117, pp. 1118-1124) suggested that parental diagnosis may be overestimating the problem.

"[There is a] need for accurate diagnosis to prevent infants being on unnecessarily restricted diets, which may be associated with inadequate nutrition in this important period of growth and development," wrote the researchers from the University of Portsmouth in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The Danish study found that food hypersensitivity peaked at 18 months of age, and that this dropped off significantly as the children grew up.

Source: Allergy
Volume 64, Issue 7, Pages: 1023-1029
“Food allergy and food sensitization in early childhood: results from the DARC cohort”
Authors: E. Eller, H. F. Kjaer, A. Høst, K. E. Andersen, C. Bindslev-Jensen

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