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Food-induced anaphylaxis

Scott H Sicherer, MD, FAAAAI
Section Editor
John M Kelso, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna M Feldweg, MD


Food allergy affects about 6 to 8 percent of children less than five years of age and up to 4 percent of the general population in the United States [1]. Anaphylaxis is "a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death," a definition developed by a consensus of international experts [2]. Food is responsible for up to one-half of reported anaphylaxis cases presenting to emergency departments in developed countries around the world [3-5]. Food is the leading cause among identified triggers of anaphylaxis in children and young adults outside of the hospital setting [6,7].

This topic will review unique features of anaphylaxis caused by food, the characteristics of patients at risk for such reactions, and the foods which most often induce anaphylaxis. Differences between food-induced anaphylaxis in children and adults and important issues in the diagnosis and management of this disorder are also discussed.

Aspects of anaphylaxis that are not unique to food-induced reactions, such as diagnosis, acute treatment, and pathophysiology, are presented elsewhere. (See "Anaphylaxis: Emergency treatment" and "Pathophysiology of anaphylaxis" and "Anaphylaxis: Confirming the diagnosis and determining the cause(s)".)

A detailed discussion of the use of skin testing and in vitro testing to diagnose food allergy is found separately. (See "Diagnostic evaluation of food allergy".)


Food-induced anaphylaxis refers to a serious allergic reaction following the ingestion of a food, which is generally rapid in onset and may progress to death.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 27, 2016.
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