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Outgrowing Food Allergies: What are the Odds?

Whether or not a food allergy can be outgrown depends largely on the type of food your child is allergic to, as well as the severity of the allergy. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to almost any type of food. But some foods lead to allergies more frequently than others. Of the common food allergies, milk, egg, soy and wheat allergies are the ones children most often outgrow. About 60 to 80 percent of young children with a milk or egg allergy are able to have those foods without a reaction by the time they reach age 16.

Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies and tends to be lifelong; only about 20 percent of children are fortunate enough to outgrow it. An even lower number of those with tree nut allergies —14 percent —will lose that allergy. And only 4 to 5 percent of children with a fish or crustacean (shellfish) allergy will go on to be able to eat those foods without a reaction later in life.

Recent studies have shown that most children can tolerate baked milk and egg. If they can, eating baked milk or egg can help speed up the resolution of food allergies in some children. If your child is allergic to milk or egg, consult your allergist before giving them these foods in baked form.

A study published in 2013 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology revealed these findings:

  • Only 26.6% of the children in the study outgrew their allergies, at an average age of 5.4 years old.
  • Children who were allergic to milk, egg, or soy were most likely to outgrow their allergies. The likelihood of outgrowing shellfish, tree nut, and peanut allergies was significantly lower.
  • The earlier a child’s first reaction, the more likely that child was to outgrow the allergy.
  • Other factors that contributed to outgrowing an allergy included having a history of only mild to moderate reactions, being allergic to only one food, and having eczema as the only symptom. Conversely, children with severe symptoms (trouble breathing, swelling, and anaphylaxis) and multiple food allergies were less likely to achieve tolerance.
  • Black children were less likely to outgrow their allergy than white children.
  • Boys were more likely to outgrow their allergy than girls.

Researchers don’t fully understand why some kids grow out of their food allergies at a young age and some never grow out of them. But, until a child outgrows his food allergy, the best method of coping is to avoid the allergenic food altogether. However, many parents who want a solution sooner than later have discovered the transformative benefits of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for their food allergic children.

More than 80% of our patients who have been treated with OIT can now safely consume foods that once threatened their health. To learn more about the difference you can make in your child’s life with OIT, visit us today!

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Comments ( 5 )

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  • Audrey ziadat

    Hi. My son is 3.5 years old and has multiple food allergies (peanut, tree nuts, egg sesame, legumes). I am looking into OIT but have a question as to whether OIT will prohibit the possibility of his outgrowing the allergies on his own? Thank you.

    • APNT Team

      While I can’t comment specifically about your child, we know that there is data suggesting that exposure to amounts of a food that do not cause a reaction can help decrease the risk of reaction. The best data comes from studies of baked milk and bake egg. There are no similar data for nuts. Keep in mind that the likelihood of outgrowing peanut allergy after 15 years of strict avoidance is about 20% and we think it is similar for tree nuts so the chance of outgrowing those allergies is not high. Because OIT decreases the risk of reaction for most patients, it is very unlikely that it would inhibit a child’s naturally outgrowing the allergy. A detailed evaluation by an allergist with expertise in food OIT would be the best way to get answers to specific questions regarding your child.

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