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November 26, 1982

Food Allergy

JAMA. 1982;248(20):2627-2631. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330200051013

FOOD ALLERGY is widely perceived by the public as a major health problem. Although the true incidence of food allergy is unknown, it is probably much less common than thought. Its incidence among children has been variously estimated from 0.3% to 7.5%, and the incidence decreases with age. Acute allergic reactions to foods which are clearly IgE mediated can, however, develop in adults who previously tolerated foods with impunity. Clinically, food-induced reactions of the immediate hypersensitivity type are well documented and include urticaria, angioedema, and anaphylaxis. Reactions to foods mediated through cytotoxic, antigen-antibody-complex and delayed hypersensitivity mechanisms remain to be clearly demonstrated except in gluten-induced enteropathy, where immunoglobulin and complement deposition has been noted.

CLINICAL FEATURES  Immunologically mediated reactions to foods are expressed clinically by a diversity of signs and symptoms from abdominal pain to generalized anaphylaxis. These clinical expressions of food allergy are influenced by factors including the age