Food Allergy in childhood: phenotypes, prevention and treatment

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Abstract

The prevalence of food allergy in childhood increased in the last decades, especially in Westernized countries where this phenomenon has been indicated as a second wave of the allergic epidemic. In parallel, scientific interest also increased with the effort to explain the reasons of this sudden rise and to identify potential protective and risk factors. A great attention has been focused on early exposures to allergenic foods, as well as on other nutritional factors or supplements that may influence the immune system in a positive direction. Both interventions on maternal diet before birth or during breastfeeding and then directly on infant nutrition have been investigated. Furthermore, the natural history of food allergy also seems to be changing over time; IgE-mediated cow's milk allergy and egg allergy seem to be more frequently a persistent rather than a transient disease in childhood, as described in the last years. Food avoidance and the emergency drugs in case of an adverse event, such as epinephrine self-injector, are currently the first-line treatment in patients with food allergies, with a resulting impairment in the quality of life and social behaviour. During the last decade, oral immunotherapy emerged as an optional treatment with remarkable results, offering a novel perspective in the treatment for and management of food allergy.

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