Natural History

The natural history of food allergy has been little studied. It is well-known that a high proportion of children with food intolerance in the first year of life lose their intolerance in time. The proportion of children to which this happens varies with the food and probably with type of symptoms that are produced. Thus, it is common for allergy to cow's milk or egg to spontaneously disappear with time, whereas peanut allergy is usually lifelong. In the North American study referred to previously, it was found that the offending food or fruit was back in the diet after only 9 months in half the cases, and virtually all the offending foods were back in the diet by the third birthday. A further study of nine children with very severe adverse reactions to food showed that despite the severity, three were later able to tolerate normal amounts of the offending food and four became able to tolerate small amounts.

Although it is clear that the majority of children with food intolerance spontaneously improve, it remains to be established to what extent this depends on the age of onset, the nature of the symptoms, the food itself, and other factors such as associated atopic disease.

In adults with food allergy, the problem is far more likely to be lifelong. Nevertheless, some adults do become tolerant to foods to which they were allergic. In one adult follow-up study, approximately one-third of adults were found to lose their allergy after maintaining an elimination diet for 1 year.

Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Peanuts can leave you breathless. Cat dander can lead to itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing. And most of us have suffered through those seasonal allergies with horrible pollen counts. Learn more...

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