Parents whose child's allergies showed up in infancy almost always report that their doctors, as well as some friends, family members, and other parents, had initially dismissed their child's symptoms as colic, reflux, rashes, or cradle cap -- and pegged them as nervous moms. This should happen less frequently now, because last year the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released the first-ever guidelines for diagnosing and managing a food allergy. "The guidelines provide quick and essential information to doctors who need to be up to speed on managing food allergies," says Acebal.
If your child is tested, it's important to know that the result may not be the final word. "Skin and blood tests yield so many false positives that they are not entirely reliable," says Dr. Sampson, who is also FAAN's medical director. "No doctor should do just one test and tell you that your child can't eat a particular food. Many puzzle pieces, including skin and blood tests and a detailed medical history, must fit together," he adds.
Some kids outgrow certain allergies by age 10, sometimes much sooner. But research shows that just 19 percent of children with a milk allergy outgrow it by age 4; by age 16, nearly 80 percent outgrow it. Only about 10 to 20 percent of young kids with peanut, tree nut, and shellfish allergies ever get rid of the allergy altogether, says Dr. Sampson. So it's crucial to teach children what to look for and avoid.