ACAAI Releases Latest Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergies

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Attendees at the 2010 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) were given a preview of “The Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States”, set to be formally released to the public on December 6th. The report was created to help a wide range of healthcare professionals improve their treatment of food allergies, a condition that has drastically increased in the past decade.

Health Professionals Other Than Allergists Need Access to Evidence Based Guidelines

The latest guidelines were funded and coordinated by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and are the result of 2 years worth of research by 34 professional medical organizations, federal agencies, and patient advocacy groups. More than 12,000 studies were reviewed and of these 400 were selected to be used to create an evidence-based report on the state of science in food allergy.

The NIAID estimates that food allergies affect approximately 5% of children and 4% of adults in the United States and may be increasing in prevalence. However, the bigger problem is self-diagnosis, over diagnosis and misdiagnosis – hence the need for evidence-based guidelines for health professionals to follow.

Read: Food Allergies in US Children Have Risen in Past Decade

The Guidelines are organized into five major topic areas:

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1. Definitions, prevalence, and epidemiology of food allergy
2. Natural history of food allergy and associated disorders
3. Diagnosis of food allergy
4. Management of non-acute food allergic reactions and prevention of food allergy
5. Diagnosis and management of food-induced anaphylaxis and other acute allergic reactions to foods.

Although many different foods and food components are recognized as food allergens, defined as the specific ingredient within a food that causes the allergic reaction, the Guidelines focus only those responsible for reactions caused by an immunologic response, such as a true milk allergy rather than a hypersensitivity to milk sugar called lactose intolerance.

Milk, egg, and peanut account for the majority of allergic reactions in young children. In teens and adults, peanut, tree nuts, and seafood (fish and crustacean shellfish) are common allergens.

Read: We Need Evidence-Based Guidelines for Food Allergies

"The guidelines will be of great help to medical professionals — both specialists and nonspecialists in allergy — because they will make us more homogeneous in the criteria of diagnosis and management of food allergy," said ACAAI president Sami L. Bahna, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics and chief of the allergy/immunology section at Louisiana State University School of Medicine .

The guidelines are set to be published online December 6 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Access will be free.

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