The foods most commonly associated with a severe reaction included tree nuts and peanuts, shellfish, soy and finned fish.
"Especially for kids with multiple food allergies, it complicates their lives and makes it really tough on these kids to avoid multiple foods to stay healthy and stay alive," Gupta said.
Parents of children with food allergies should always carry antihistamine and an epinephrine shot (i.e., an EpiPen) with them, Gupta said. Even with those close at hand, witnessing a child having a serious food reaction can be terrifying for parents, who don't know how bad it's going to get and need to decide within moments whether to administer the shot and call 911.
Often, reactions happen when parents least expect them -- while they're at a family gathering or some other social event, and the child accidentally ingests something.
Dr. Susan Schuval, a pediatric allergist at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed that food allergies seem to be getting more common.
"We are seeing tons and tons of food allergies. There also seems to be an increase from what we've seen in the past," Schuval said.
Right now, the only treatment available to most food allergic kids is avoidance. For parents and children, that means paying close attention to labels, taking precautions when eating out, bringing along their own food when they travel or go to social events such as birthday parties. It also means educating teachers, caregivers and other parents who may have their kids over to play about using an epinephrine shot and the seriousness of the allergy.
"They need to maintain their full alertness out of the home, in the schools and in restaurants," Schuval said.
For some children, food allergies get better over time. Previous research has found many kids outgrow allergies to mil
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