Food allergy is a serious health issue affecting roughly 4% of children, with a substantial effect on quality of life. Prognosis is good for the most frequent allergens with almost all children outgrowing their allergy. However, the long-term implications for disease burden are substantial for children with persistent allergies (eg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish) and for those with high concentrations of milk, egg, and wheat IgE. Antigen avoidance has been the time-honoured approach both for prevention and treatment. However, findings from studies done in the past 5 years show that early contact with food can induce tolerance and desensitisation to foods. We review the epidemiology, natural history, and management of food allergy, and discuss the areas of controversy and future directions in research and clinical practice.
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