Food allergies

What are food allergies?

A food allergy is the immune system’s abnormal response to a certain food. Food allergies can cause symptoms that range from uncomfortable to life threatening.

Most food allergies in children are caused by six foods:

• milk
• peanuts
• eggs
• soy
• wheat
• tree nuts


Symptoms of a food allergy can occur from a few minutes to an hour after the child has eaten the food. Even a small amount of the food can cause a severe reaction in a child who has a severe allergy.

The most common symptoms include:

• vomiting, diarrhea or cramps
• hives or swelling
• itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth
• tightness in the throat
• difficulty breathing
• wheezing


There is no treatment to prevent a food allergy. Once your child’s doctor discovers which foods are causing your child’s allergies, he or she should avoid these foods. Your child’s doctor may prescribe epinephrine to help stop the symptoms of a severe reaction.

In some cases, children outgrow food allergies. Your child’s doctor may test your child after 3 to 6 months to see if this occurs.