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May 8, 2006

Does my child really have a food allergy?

According to the American Dietetic Association, only about 2 percent of Americans have a real food allergy. Yet, so many more think the have a food allergy.

Many symptoms of food allergy can be uncomfortable. But sometimes they can be severe, or life-threatening. Depending on the culprit, a true food allergy, requires you to do a little investigating.

If you think your child may have a food allergy, see your pediatrician first. Make sure you are prepared for the visit. Here are some things you will want to bring to your visit:

1) Keep track of events. Record your child's symptoms and what he/she ate or drank before they occurred. Also, note times and settings.

2) Write down your family history. Does anyone else have food allergies? Often there are family connections. Even though neither of us has food allergies, we definitely have connections in our families... both from Mom and Dad's side.

3) Record the bigger picture. Does anything else bring the symptoms out? Be very specific. Going outside in the spring? Traveling to the mountains or desert? Hard physical activity?

Now, a final word about those early days of diagnosis. Many pediatricians are not fully up to speed on diagnosing food allergies. You will want to see an allergist to fully understand the situation. Our experience is that there is still a fair amount of art to this science of child food allergies. Be prepared for a lot of learning about allergies, your child and your doctors.

Posted by David at May 8, 2006 8:14 AM