allergic to food?

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The incidence of food allergies seems to be growing, but sometimes the definition of a food allergy is not at all clear.

According to an article in HealthDay (http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=646995), a new set of guidelines has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that will assist physicians be better able to make a diagnosis of food allergy, and initiate appropriate treatment.  Making the diagnosis depends upon taking a complete and thorough medical history, and obtaining appropriate laboratory data, as well as performing skin tests looking for reactivity to certain foods. However, even if all the tests are positive, it is not necessarily the case that a child will have an actual reaction to an ingested food. I have attached the link to the actual guidelines (http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0091-6749/PIIS0091674910015691.pdf) for anyone wishing to read them--be advised they are 14 pages long.

I am posting this because I know that lots of people are concerned that their child might have a food allergy, and wanted you to know the latest thinking of a group of experts.  

What can you do if you believe your child is allergic to a certain food substance?

First, talk with your primary care doctor. He or she can often provide valuable guidance and information. If that is not enough, you may wish to be referred to a specialist. A visit to a pediatric gastroenterologist who is interested in this field can be very helpful, as sometimes symptoms (such as diarrhea or upset stomach) may be caused by something other than an allergy. If there are still questions, then you might consider visiting a pediatric allergist. It is useful to check with the office of any provider you contemplate visiting, to be sure that he or she has interest and expertise in food allergy, and can perform a food challenge if that should become necessary. Not all allergists are able to do so.

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About Dr. Ackerman

Alice Ackerman, MD, MBA, FAAP, FCCM is the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Carilion Clinic and Professor and Founding Chair of Pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Dr. Ackerman is recognized nationally as an expert in pediatric critical care.

She has been at Carilion Clinic since June of 2007. Her primary goals are to enhance the health care of children in the Roanoke Valley and Southwest Virginia, and is actively working to do this both as physician in chief of the children's hospital, as well as through involvement with many state-wide initiatives.

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