Can you grow out of allergies? It’s not known exactly why some children will outgrow an allergy and others won’t. There have been few studies that look into this. The studies that have been carried out can give some insight into who may or may not grow out of their allergy.
A survey which was conducted between June 2009 and February 2010 looked at 40,104 children in the US.
Of these 40,104 children, 3,188 had a food allergy and 1,245 children had outgrown a food allergy. Nine of the top food allergens were looked at – milk, peanut, shellfish, tree nuts, egg, fish, wheat, soy and sesame. The results showed that:
- 26.6% of children had outgrown a food allergy.
- The average age of outgrowing the allergy was 5.4 years.
- The allergens that were most likely to be outgrown were – milk (41.1%), egg (40.2%), and soy (35.7%).
- The allergens that were least likely to be outgrown were – shellfish (13%), tree nut (14.3%) and peanut (15.6%).
- The younger the child was when they experienced there first reaction, the more likely they were to grow out of the allergy.
- A child who experienced mild to moderate reactions was more likely to grow out of the allergy than a child who experienced severe reactions like trouble breathing, swelling or anaphylaxis.
- Black children were less likely to grow out of their allergy than white children.
- Girls were less likely to grow out of their allergy than boys.
Outgrowing peanut allergy
Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies among children. The number of children with food allergies in the US more than tripled between 1997 and 2008. Growing out of a peanut allergy is not that common, only 20% of children outgrow their allergy.
A project by a Canadian research group showed that a child is most likely to outgrow a peanut allergy by age 6, and after the age of 10, the probability of growing out of the allergy is very low.
The project took place between 1998 and 2001. 202 children aged 18 months or younger were monitored by using periodic skin prick tests and blood tests which monitored the levels of peanut IgE (the antibody that triggers allergic symptoms) in the bloodstream.
At age 5, those with low levels of peanut IgE were offered to undergo food challenges. Of the 67 who took part, 51 were found to be tolerant to peanuts.
This means that 51 of the original 202 children (just over 25%) had outgrown their allergy by the end of the project. 80% of these children were allergy free before the age of 8. The blood tests of the children who remained allergic showed an increase in the level of peanut IgE over time.
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