Understanding Food Allergies

Content by: NCES, Inc.

Do you know the top 8 food allergens? An allergic reaction happens quickly. Preventive measures are important, but recognizing the signs are critical. Read More!

Understanding Food Allergies


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Food allergies usually appear in young children, but some can go unnoticed until adulthood. It is also possible for children to outgrow food allergies with time. Those with a family history of allergies, asthma and eczema are more likely to develop food allergies. Research indicates that early exposure (before 1yr of age) to allergen foods helps to prevent food allergies later in life.

An allergic reaction happens when the body’s immune reacts to a food protein. This can set off a chain reaction and cause a number of symptoms that can range in severity. Mild symptoms include runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, itchy skin or minor abdominal cramping. Severe symptoms can be life-threatening and include shortness of breath, reduced blood pressure and severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

In America, about 90% of all food-allergic reactions are caused by 8 foods:
Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab)

Living with food allergies means becoming fluent in reading labels and ingredients. The top 8 are required to be noted on the label.

Quick Tip!

Food allergies can be fatal! Read more about recognizing and responding to the symptoms: https://www.foodallergy.org/resources/recognizing-and-responding-reaction

Next Steps:

If you or a loved one has a food allergy:
1. Watch for early warning signs in young children.
2. Check food labels.
3. Ask for menu help at restaurants.
4. Find recipes that acknowledge intolerances.

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