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Child allergies "serious" - draft guidance

Tuesday August 10th, 2010

GPs should look out for children with food allergies and seek to diagnose and treat them, according to proposed guidelines published yesterday.

The draft advice was issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for consultation.

It warns of growing numbers of children suffering from food allergies, many suffering from severe digestive problems.

In recent years life-threatening allergies, such as peanut allergy, have gained most of the focus - but the proposed guidance also suggests that skin conditions and gastrointestinal problems may be caused by allergy.

And breathing problems, such as sneezing or shortness of breath, may also indicate allergy, it says.

It warns against using testing methods offered by alternative therapists, such as hair analysis and kinesiology. Doctors should use skin prick and blood tests to check for conventional IgE allergy, it says.

But children may also suffer from "non-IgE" allergies, it says, and these can be identified by using exclusion.

It warns that some children may suffer from severe digestive problems, affecting their growth and causing pain - and these may need referral to specialists for care.

NICE says up to eight per cent of infants may suffer from food allergies.

Dr Judith Richardson, of NICE, said: "Food allergies in children are becoming more common, therefore it is important that there are appropriate, evidence-based approaches in treating those with this condition.

"Many of the symptoms are common to other conditions, so it?s not always easy to identify and diagnose food allergy correctly."

He added: "This will be the first evidence-based guideline on how health professionals and others who work with young children should diagnose and assess food allergies in children. It will be a very welcome addition in improving outcomes for those children affected by this troublesome condition, and supporting better use of resources across the health system."

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Gastroenterology | Respiratory | UK News

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