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Often Misinterpreted, Food Allergies Need Better Diagnosis, Care and Prevention


​Based on findings of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) ad hoc committee, a special article in the August 2017 Pediatrics calls for efforts to better distinguish food allergies from other conditions and boost evidence-based approaches to help children who may experience life-threatening immune reactions to what they eat. The authors of "Critical Issues in Food Allergy: A National Academies Consensus Report," published online July 24, describe how the public and health care providers frequently misinterpret symptoms of food allergies or fail to differentiate them from other conditions such as lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity or a viral illness—largely because no simple, accurate diagnostic food allergy tests currently exist. This leads to over-diagnosis of food allergies, as well as missed diagnoses that may put children's lives at risk. Echoing recent American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, the report also said evidence doesn't support avoiding certain foods such as peanuts during pregnancy, breastfeeding or throughout infancy to prevent development of food allergies. Authors of the NASEM report and Pediatrics article stress the need for better data on food allergy prevalence; proven diagnostic and preventive strategies, education, training, policies and practices to better recognize, manage and prevent allergic reactions; and raising the research priority of food allergies as a public health concern.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds