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Between 50% and 90% of all severe allergic reactions to foods are caused by only eight foods. The most common food allergies are: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Each of these "big eight" food allergies has its own unique challenges.
The most common food allergies for adults differs from the most common food allergies for children. Many children outgrow their allergies to milk, eggs, or wheat in early childhood. Adults may develop new allergies later in life.
The good news is that these ingredients should be clearly labeled with an allergy warning on all packaged foods made in the United States. For example, a food that contained hydrolyzed vegetable protein derived from soy would be required to have a statement that said "Allergy warning: contains soy" on the ingredient label.
The bad news is that not all foods are manufactured in the United States, and products such as shampoo or lotion may contain these foods but are not required to list them separately as allergens. You still need to be a label detective.
The most common food allergies, in order of frequency, are:
- Frequency: Cow's milk is the most common food allergy in American children. 2.5 percent of children have a cow's milk allergy. It is not a major allergen for adults.
- Outlook: Up to 80 percent of children will outgrow their allergy to dairy products by the age of six.
- Where allergens hide: Deli meats, "non-dairy" creamer, skin and hair care products, canned tuna, and some craft paints.
- Other sensitivities: A milk allergy is an immune response to milk proteins, which is different from lactose intolerance, in which your body lacks the enzyme needed to digest milk sugars. Children with milk allergy must avoid all dairy products, including those that are lactose-free.
- Dairy Allergy Basics
- Foods to Avoid on a Dairy-Free Diet
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