Allergic Reactions to Foods in Infants and Children

Posted 7.18.12 | Mallory West

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a study titled “Allergic Reactions to Foods in Preschool-Aged Children in a Prospective Observational Food Allergy Study”.  Since this is a topic near and dear to most of your hearts, I wanted to summarize their findings in today’s post.

The authors studied 512 infants and preschool-aged children with likely egg or milk allergies to learn more about the frequency and circumstances of food related allergic reactions and to determine how these reactions are being treated.  Below are some of the key findings.

  • 94.8% of all allergic reactions were caused by ingestion rather than inhalation or skin exposure.
  • 50.6% of all allergic reactions were attributed to food not provided by parents, including other family members and teachers.  This suggests that there needs to be education for all caretakers, not just parents.
  • Circumstances ofaccidental allergic reactions to milk, egg, or peanut:
    • 64.9% due to lack of vigilance (failure to check ingredients, forgetfulness, child taking the food, etc)
    • 15.8% due to misreading labels
    • 15.1% due to cross-contact in meal preparation
  • 11.2% of all allergic reactions to milk, egg, or peanut were caused by purposeful trial of the allergen (allergen re-introduction). Families should always discuss reintroduction with their child’s healthcare provider before trying it on their own, especially if there is a history of anaphylaxis.
  • Only 29.9% of severe allergic reactions were treated with epinephrine. Many caregivers reported that they were hesitant or afraid to use it even though they thought it was indicated. This suggests that there needs to be better education about how to use epinephrine and the safety of using it in needed situations.

The authors refer families to the Consortium of Food Allergy Research website for more information and education materials.  To view the full study, visit

What do you think about the findings?  Have your children had an accidental reaction from food given by another caregiver (teacher, relative)?  Do you feel confident using Epipens when necessary?




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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.