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Food Allergy, Infectious Disease Guidelines

December 8, 2010

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Food allergies are on the rise and affecting many people in sometimes life-threatening ways. An expert panel sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has issued comprehensive U.S. guidelines to assist health care professionals in diagnosing food allergy and managing the care of people with the disease.

The Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-sponsored Expert Panel, developed over two years, is intended for use by both family practice physicians and medical specialists.

“Food allergy affects millions of Americans, and these individuals seek care from a wide variety of health care providers,” NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. was quoted as saying. “Because these guidelines provide standardized, concise recommendations on how to diagnose and manage food allergy and treat acute food allergy reactions across specialties, we expect both clinicians and food allergy patients to greatly benefit from these clear state-of-the-science clinical standards.”

The guidelines establish consistency in terminology and definitions, diagnostic criteria, and patient management practices. They are designed for both generalists and specialists in many areas.
A coordinating committee representing 34 professional organizations, advocacy groups, and federal agencies oversaw the development of the guidelines. The coordinating committee selected a 25-member expert panel, chaired by Joshua Boyce, M.D., co-director of the Inflammation and Allergic Disease Research Section at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The panel used an independent, systematic literature review of food allergy and their own expert clinical opinions to prepare draft guidelines. Public comments were invited and considered as well during the development of the guidelines.

Additional topics covered by the guidelines include the prevalence of food allergy, natural history of food allergy, closely associated diseases, and management of acute allergic reactions to food, including anaphylaxis, a severe whole-body reaction. They also identify gaps about what is known about food allergy.

“The food allergy guidelines provide a rigorous assessment of the state of the science, and clearly identify the areas where evidence is lacking and where research needs to be pursued,” Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation at NIAID was quoted as saying. “This information will help shape our research agenda for the near future.”

Food allergy has become a serious health concern in the United States. Recent studies estimate that food allergy affects nearly 5 percent of children younger than 5 years old and 4 percent of teens and adults. Food allergy can affect an individual’s health, nutrition, development and quality of life. While several potential treatments appear promising, currently no treatments for food allergy exist and avoidance of the food is the only way to prevent complications of the disease.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, published online December 6, 2010




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