Rise in childhood allergies or misdiagnosis?

Food allergies in children have rocketed in the past 20 years but many have been wrongly labelled, say new NICE guidelines

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Food allergies in British children have been rapidly increasing over the last two decades, according to a report by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

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Hospital admissions for allergic reactions have increased by 500% since 1990 and the NICE study of 1,000 children on the Isle of Wight discovered around 6% had a reaction to certain foods.

The study has also voiced concerns that self-diagnosis and over-zealous diet regulation by parents can be unnecessary and even harmful, removing vital nutrients and food groups from children’s diets.

“True food allergy is becoming more common but they are not as common as many people think,” said Lindsey McManus from the charity, Allergy UK.  “Some people do cut out foods unnecessarily because they have had an averse reaction and presume it is an allergy. In children this can be dangerous. It is often the major food groups that people cut out and dairy, for example, is very important for growing children,” she added.

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If you’re concerned your child may have an allergy, keep an eye out for these food allergy signs. Then the first stop is your GP. NHS diagnosis can be frustratingly slow but the best way to test for an allergy is the reintroduction test, which takes time and should not be attempted unsupervised.

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