Food Allergy

Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body’s immune system, in which the body produces what is called an allergic, or IgE, antibody to a food, and affects up to 6 to 8 percent of children under the age of 3 and close to 4 percent of adults. Allergic reactions to food can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death. Therefore, if you have a food allergy, it is extremely important for you to work with your healthcare provider to find out what food(s) causes your allergic reaction.

Sometimes, a reaction to food is not an allergy at all but another type of reaction called “food intolerance.” Food intolerance is more common than food allergy. The immune system does not cause the symptoms of food intolerance, though these symptoms may look and feel like those of a food allergy.

Baked Egg/Baked Milk Challenge

If your child has an egg or milk allergy, it may be possible to safely incorporate baked egg and baked milk products such as cakes and cookies into their diet. This is because patients are often allergic to proteins in egg and milk that are easily destroyed by heat, therefore conferring tolerance to extensively heated products.

Tolerance of baked products can be confirmed by a stepwise oral challenge performed in a monitored setting, after taking into consideration several factors.

The implications of passing an oral challenge to baked egg and baked milk are multifold:

There is considerable evidence that incorporating baked egg and baked milk into the diet of egg/milk allergic patients hastens resolution of their allergy
It allows for considerable liberalization of dietary restrictions
Tolerance of baked products is a predictor that the allergy itself will be outgrown sooner rather than later

Food Challenges

All food challenges are done the same way. A small amount of the baked food is given. The patient is observed for 15-30 minutes and a larger portion is given and then observed again. This is repeated 3-5 times until the child has consumed a meal sized portion of the food. The amount varies by age. If there is any reaction at any point, the challenge is stopped, the reaction treated and it is a positive challenge. If the child gets to the end, it is a negative challenge and the child can eat the tested products.

Food challenges should never be done at home. Consult a board certified allergist who may recommend a carefully monitored food challenge.

Please contact the office with any questions regarding these procedures or to schedule a consultation.