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Kids' Food Allergies: Will New Medical Rules Let Them Eat More Foods?

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Guest blogger Kate Tuttle: It's likely that a child in your family, or a child your child goes to school with, has been diagnosed with a food allergy. More than four percent of kids have received that diagnosis -- a steep increase over a decade ago. But until now, many parents weren't certain just what to believe about their child's allergies, since both skin and blood tests are notorious for yielding false positives. Just to be on the safe side, a lot of families are eliminating foods that they really could eat safely.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, some kids who may be allergic to one or two foods are restricted from eating dozens of things, just because their parents would rather avoid any risk at all. Now, a new set of guidelines released this week by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends that doctors and families should seek to nail down a firm diagnosis, using a combination of testing and oral challenges (that's when a patient

eats a suspected allergen in a safe clinical setting).

In so doing, the guideline authors suggest, it's likely that the overall number of food-allergy diagnoses will decrease -- and a lot of kids and parents will find that their culinary palette has expanded. Whatever allergies you have in your family, now's a good time to call your doctor and see whether it's time to reassess the diagnosis in light of the new guidelines.

Our son had a bad reaction to a walnut, and subsequent blood tests revealed reactions to pecans as well. I know that I'm looking forward to speaking with his allergist about whether we can pinpoint the actual dangers and maybe lessen everyone's anxiety around nuts in general.

Does your child have a food allergy? How was it diagnosed? Do the new guidelines make sense to you?


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