Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Comprehensive Care for Children with Food Allergies

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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.

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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 the following complex allergic conditions that may cause serious complications.

  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis
    Inflammation of the esophagus that can cause delayed growth, abdominal pain, and trouble swallowing.
  • Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)
    This type of food allergy affects the GI tract. It causes severe vomiting or diarrhea in babies up to several hours after they have eaten certain foods.
Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Treatments

Medical Treatment

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.

Food Allergy Action Plans

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

Nutrition Counseling

Our registered dietitian helps children with one or more food allergies maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet, despite having to avoid certain foods.

Education and Support

​​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. 

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Tests

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.

Skin Prick Tests

Confirm the presence of food allergies using a liquid solution that contains allergens. Raised bumps will appear at the site of an allergic reaction.

Blood Tests

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.

Oral Food Challenges

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.

Best Children's Hospital in NC
In addition to being among the best in the country, Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.

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.

Education and Assistance
​​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.

A Team of Specialists
When necessary, we refer your child to a gastroenterologist or nutritionist to help manage their diet and reduce digestive symptoms.

Regular Monitoring
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.

Testing Infants at High-Risk for Allergies
 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.

Convenient Care
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.