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Food allergy in under 19s: assessment and diagnosis

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Last updated:23rd Feb 2011
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Food allergy in under 19s: assessment and diagnosis

Food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food. It can be classified into IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated reactions. Many non-IgE reactions, which are poorly defined both clinically and scientifically, are believed to be T-cell-mediated. Some reactions involve a mixture of both IgE and non-IgE responses and are classified as mixed IgE and non-IgE allergic reactions. Food allergy may be confused with food intolerance, which is a non- immunological reaction that can be caused by enzyme deficiencies, pharmacological agents and naturally occurring substances. Food intolerance will not be covered in this guideline. The starting point for the guideline is a suspicion of food allergy, and the use of an allergy-focused clinical history will help to determine whether a food allergy is likely.

This guideline covers assessing and managing food allergy in children and young people under 19. It aims to improve symptoms such as faltering growth and eczema by offering advice on how to identify food allergy and when to refer to secondary or specialist care.

The guideline does not cover reactions to food that are due to intolerance (for example, intolerance to lactose in dairy products) rather than allergy.

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