Immunoglobulin E–mediated food reactions usually develop within minutes of food ingestion. Although most reactions are not life-threatening, fatalities do occur. Risk factors for fatal food-induced anaphylaxis include the presence of asthma (a risk factor for anaphylaxis in general), failure to use epinephrine autoinjectors promptly, a history of severe reactions, known food allergy, denial of symptoms, and adolescent and young adult age. The most commonly implicated foods are cow’s milk, egg, peanut, soy, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and wheat. Peanut, tree nuts, and seafood are the most common food allergens in adults, whereas cow’s milk, peanut, egg, soy, and wheat are more common in children. The major food allergens are glycoproteins, which are generally water soluble and stable to the effects of heat, proteases, and acids. Recent studies showed that natural tolerance can be acquired at a later age than previously thought, even during adolescence. Allergies to peanut, tree nuts, and seafood are frequently life-long. Patients and their caregivers should be taught when and how to administer injectable epinephrine. In terms of primary prevention, there is evidence that early introduction, followed by ongoing regular consumption of peanut has a protective effect on the development of peanut allergy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine