Food proteins are essentially foreign proteins capable of eliciting immunological responses. Any food protein may be allergenic if it can be absorbed intact or as substantial fragments, through the gut mucosa, and then evoke an immune (allergic) response. Some foods, such as rice and vegetables, are less allergenic than others, such as milk, egg and nuts. The intrinsic properties of the protein, the overall composition of the food, and the processing (especially thermal processing) all have an effect on the allergic potential. In the management of food allergy it is possible to exclude the food responsible for symptoms and to replace it with less allergenic foods. In certain situations it is not possible simply to eliminate the food, e.g. milk during infancy. Up to 2.5% of infants are affected by cow's milk allergy (CMA) in the first two years of life, although most of these children will outgrow their reactivity within 2-3 years. However, during the interim period an alternative milk formula is usually required.
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