Food intolerances and eosinophilic esophagitis in childhood

Dig Dis Sci. 2009 Jan;54(1):8-14. doi: 10.1007/s10620-008-0331-x. Epub 2008 Jul 2.


Food intolerance is an adverse reaction to a particular food or ingredient that may or may not be related to the immune system. A deficiency in digestive enzymes can also cause some types of food intolerances like lactose and gluten intolerance. Food intolerances may cause unpleasant symptoms, including nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, which usually begin about half an hour after eating or drinking the food in question, but sometimes symptoms may delayed up to 48 h. There is also a strong genetic pattern to food intolerances. Intolerance reactions to food chemicals are mostly dose-related, but also some people are more sensitive than others. Diagnosis can include elimination and challenge testing. Food intolerance can be managed simply by avoiding the particular food from entering the diet. Babies or younger children with lactose intolerance can be given soy milk or hypoallergenic milk formula instead of cow's milk. Adults may be able to tolerate small amounts of troublesome foods, so may need to experiment. Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is defined as isolated eosinophilic infiltration in patients with reflux-like symptoms and normal pH studies and whose symptoms are refractory to acid-inhibition therapy. Food allergy, abnormal immunologic response, and autoimmune mechanisms are suggested as possible etiological factors for EE. This article is intended to review the current literature and to present a practical approach for managing food intolerances and EE in childhood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colic* / diagnosis
  • Colic* / etiology
  • Colic* / therapy
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Esophagitis* / diagnosis
  • Esophagitis* / etiology
  • Esophagitis* / therapy
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / etiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactose Intolerance* / diagnosis
  • Lactose Intolerance* / etiology
  • Lactose Intolerance* / therapy