Food allergy: common myths and red flag signs.

At the present time there is no cure for food allergy but it is a treatable condition best managed with risk reduction.
Food allergy is more common than Insulin Dependent Diabetes, Epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease.
Compromised growth, poorer nutritional status, lower self care, poorer quality of life and possibly lower safety in the community are less likely with accurate diagnosis as there are many common unfounded myths for example:

  • Myth 1. Food allergy is uncommon in infancy.
  • Myth 2. Allergy tests (Skin Prick Test and specific IgE) have no relevance in early infancy.
  • Myth 3. Consumption of milk and dairy products leads to mucus in upper and lower respiratory tract.
  • Myth 4. Goat and soy milk are suitable alternatives if cow’s milk protein allergy is suspected.
  • Myth 5. The next allergic reaction will be worse than the previous.
  • Myth 6.There is egg in the MMR vaccine.
  • Myth 7. Egg allergic children should be given their MMR vaccine in hospital.

There are no specific equipment, accommodation or IT requirements for the provision of food allergy services, it’s a cheap, low tech ambulatory specialty, in high demand nationwide.

IFAN’s vision for the future of paediatric food allergy services nationally includes

Providing child and family focussed rather than organ focused evidence based, research led health care.
Increasing support for allergy care in the community in primary care and health care centres
Having allergy aware consultants in regional units, trained, resourced and equipped to manage most cases up to and including food challenge.

Think food allergy!

In a child:

  • who has had one or more systemic reactions or severe delayed reactions
  • with one or more of the signs and symptoms that involve different organ systems (particularly persistent symptoms shown in the algorithm).
  • with faltering growth plus one or more gastrointestinal symptom(s)
  • with early onset significant atopic eczema
  • where eczema, gastro-oesophageal reflux or chronic gastrointestinal symptoms have not responded to optimal treatment.
  • where there is persisting parental suspicion of food allergy despite lack of supporting history.