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Study: 25% of youths outgrow allergies

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By USA Today
Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 5:02 p.m.
 

More than one quarter of American children with a history of food allergies have outgrown their sensitivities and can tolerate the foods that once made them sick, a new analysis shows.

Yet black children, kids with multiple allergies and those with histories of severe reactions are less likely than other kids to recover. Kids with allergies to nuts or fish don't fare as well as those with allergies to eggs, milk, soy and wheat. And kids with those easier-to-overcome allergies don't outgrow them as quickly as observed in earlier generations of children, says Ruchi Gupta, associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Doctors used to see children growing out of milk allergies in preschool years. But now “we see kids really holding on to milk allergies,” sometimes into teen years, says Gupta, who presented the unpublished data at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Anaheim, Calif. The reasons for that shift — and the recent increases in child food allergies — are unknown, she says.

Gupta and her colleagues collected data on 40,000 children and teens nationwide to find 4,433 with current or former food allergies. As the researchers have previously reported, about 8 percent of children in the nation have food allergies.

The report says 3 percent had food allergies in the past but did not have them at the time of the survey. For example, 41 percent of milk allergies, 40 percent of egg allergies, 16 percent of peanut allergies and 13 percent of shellfish allergies had been outgrown. The rates get higher as kids age. So 55 percent of kids older than age 10 with a history of egg allergy no longer had the problem, Gupta says.

“Most kids develop tolerance by age 10, but tolerance can develop at any age,” she says. “There's always hope.”

The tolerance rates found in the study are in line with what allergists experience in their offices and what other research has shown, says Scott Sicherer, professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York.

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