In Australia, food allergy is estimated to affect 1-2% of adults and 4-8% of children under 5 years of age (1). Recent Australian data indicates that 10% of children aged under one year have a proven food allergy (2).
Many food allergies in children are not severe, and will disappear with time. The most common triggers of allergic reactions in childhood are egg, peanuts, tree nuts and cow’s milk. Fish and shellfish allergy are most common in adulthood. Other less common but still major food allergies in Australia include sesame, soy and wheat. Peanut, tree nut, sesame and seafood allergies are usually lifelong. Children often outgrow cow’s milk, egg, soy and wheat allergy at some point throughout childhood but a minority of people have these allergies into adulthood.
Some food allergies can be severe, causing life threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis. Allergic reactions are common in children, with hospitals reporting an increase in severe reactions being treated in emergency departments. Deaths from food allergy are rare. There are more fatal allergic reactions to medications and insect stings and bites than there are to foods.
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Food - Other Adverse Reactions
1. SA Dept. Health. Food Act Report: Year ending 30 June 2010. 2010:36
2. Osborne et al. Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunolol 2011; 127: 668-676
Content updated January 2017