Food Allergy Education Program
The materials on this page were developed through an educational supplemental grant from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The materials are intended to guide you through the initial steps to understand and manage food allergies.
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You are encouraged to read the introduction “Food Allergy Basics for the Newly Diagnosed” and to use the “Parent’s Checklist” as a starting point to guide you through learning about food allergy management.
Watch a brief video providing an overview of food allergy, recognition and treatment of anaphylaxis, and basic information about allergen avoidance.
Understanding your child’s food allergy
Work with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Information sheets in this program describe several of the common types of food allergies (see the “Disease-specific” information sheets: Anaphylaxis, Proctocolitis (bloody stools in infants), Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome and Eosinophilic Esophagitis). Food allergies can be severe, so you may need an emergency treatment plan. You may not need all of the information sheets, just ones that apply to your child’s allergies.
Avoiding food allergens
Once your child’s allergies are diagnosed, the main treatment is avoidance. Avoiding a food allergen typically requires more than just avoiding the food in whole form, for example milk or peanuts. Food allergens may be an ingredient in another food, which also may need to be avoided. This program offers separate information sheets about reading ingredient labels. You should learn about labeling laws and also review the specific food avoidance sheets for the foods that your child must avoid. Food-specific sheets: egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, sesame.
Managing food allergy inside and outside of the home
Children with food allergies should be able to participate in school, camp, and eating meals outside of the home, for example in restaurants. However, there are many things to know about preparing or acquiring safe meals and having an emergency treatment plan in place in case of a reaction. Please review the various information sheets about these activities (home, restaurants, schools, childcare, summer camps, cross contact) and issues that arise in these various settings.
Living a safe and healthy life with food allergies
You may be concerned that food allergy could mean reduced nutrition and increased stress in trying to manage your daily routine. This program includes information about nutritional issues, how to introduce new foods, how to prevent or delay allergy, and points about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
There is a great deal of food allergy information on the internet. However, be aware that some sites might not be monitored for accuracy. The NIH and the National Library of Medicine provide very helpful guidance on what to look for when evaluating the quality of health information on Web sites.