Food Allergies in Children

Food allergies are increasingly common in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food allergies affect approximately 8% of children in the United States, which is roughly 1 in 13 children. The prevalence of food allergies has been on the rise in recent years.


Several foods are commonly associated with allergies in children. The most common food allergens in children are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. In some cases, food allergies can cause severe reactions that can be life-threatening, such as anaphylaxis.


The symptoms of a food allergy can vary from mild to severe and can include hives, itching, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, a child may experience difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.


Pediatricians play an important role in the diagnosis and management of food allergies in children. If a food allergy is suspected, the child may be referred to an allergist for further testing and management. The most effective treatment for food allergies is avoidance of the allergen, and parents of children with food allergies are often advised to read food labels carefully and to avoid eating out at restaurants where cross-contamination may occur. In some cases, children may need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) to treat severe allergic reactions.


If you suspect your child has a food allergy, contact your child’s pediatrician.