Comprehensive Care for Children with Food Allergies
Children who develop a rash, hives, swelling, vomiting, or difficulty breathing after eating certain foods or ingredients often have food allergies. Even though allergic reactions can be severe, food allergies are often manageable -- and many kids outgrow them. Duke Children’s allergy and immunology specialists uncover food triggers and help your child live safely and confidently with food allergies.
Diagnosing Food Allergies and Related Conditions in Children
Our pediatric allergists are experts in diagnosing the full spectrum of food allergies -- including peanut and milk allergies -- as well as food intolerances, such as lactose or gluten intolerance. We also diagnose and treat complex allergic conditions that may cause serious complications, such as:
- Eosinophilic esophagitis, an inflammation of the esophagus that can cause delayed growth, abdominal pain, and trouble swallowing.
- Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), a type of food allergy that affects the GI tract. It causes severe vomiting or diarrhea in babies up to several hours after they have eaten certain foods.
Treating Your Child’s Food Allergy
Living with food allergies begins with a proper diagnosis. This is an important first step because some food allergies can be life-threatening and require different levels of care. Our pediatric allergists provide comprehensive care that includes accurate diagnosis, ongoing education, symptom management, and referrals to specialists. Our care continues until your child outgrows his or her food allergy, or transitions their care to an adult allergy specialist.
- We help you and your child understand food allergies, including what to look out for and how to read food labels, prepare meals, and eat away from home.
- When necessary, we refer your child to a gastroenterologist or nutritionist to help manage their diet and reduce digestive symptoms.
- We monitor your child’s allergies regularly. If your child appears to be outgrowing a food allergy, we can often work to safely incorporate the food back into the diet, using oral food challenges as necessary.
- We test infants at high-risk for developing food allergies, such as those with eczema, and offer guidance to safely introduce foods during the first year of life.
- If your child has other allergies, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, or eczema, we provide seamless and simultaneous care in one convenient location.
- For your convenience, we offer allergy and immunology care at multiple locations throughout Durham and Raleigh.
Some life-threatening allergies require emergency medicine to stop a severe reaction, such as epinephrine in a syringe (EpiPen®, Adrenaclick®, or Auvi-q®). Milder, non-life-threatening symptoms can often be treated with antihistamines.
Together, we create a written food allergy action plan that is updated at every visit. These plans outline the difference between a mild and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. This helps reduce anxiety and teaches your child to recognize when it’s okay to take an antihistamine or when they should use epinephrine
Our registered dietitian helps children with one or more food allergies maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet, despite having to avoid certain foods.
We help answer your child’s questions. We also educate your child and family about the condition and how to cope with social anxieties that may be caused by food allergies.
Duke’s pediatric allergy and immunology specialists take time to evaluate your child’s symptoms and answer your questions and concerns. We may perform a variety of tests to determine the food allergy type and severity.
Confirm the presence of food allergies using a liquid solution that contains allergens. Raised bumps will appear at the site of an allergic reaction.
Detect whether the body produces antibodies against certain foods, which triggers an allergic reaction. Results show the significance of an allergy on a numeric scale.
Performed in the safety of our hospital-based clinic, these challenges slowly introduce foods to test for allergic reaction. The process takes several hours and requires medical oversight in the event of a severe reaction. Duke also uses oral food challenges to safely reintroduce foods as your child outgrows an allergy.