NIAID is the lead Institute at the National Institutes of Health conducting research on food allergy, a condition that affects approximately 5 percent of children and 4 percent of adults in the United States. In a person with food allergy, the immune system reacts abnormally to a component of a food—sometimes producing a life-threatening response.
Since 2003, NIAID has substantially increased its support for food allergy research, from basic research in allergy and immunology to epidemiological and observational studies to identify risk factors and to clinical trials that are testing new strategies to prevent and treat food allergy. Read on to learn more about food allergy and the steps NIAID is taking to address this growing problem.
Why Is the Study of Food Allergy a Priority for NIAID?
Food allergy negatively influences the quality of life of patients and their families and is potentially life-threatening to those affected. Its prevalence is rising without a known cause and no approved treatment is yet available. Read more about NIAID’s commitment to food allergy research.
How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?
NIAID is investing in research to reduce the risk of developing food allergy and treat those who are already affected.
NIAID was one of several sponsors of Finding a Path to Safety in Food Allergy, a comprehensive food allergy research, treatment, and policy report issued in November 2016 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Personal medical history, family history, age and other factors can influence the likelihood that a person develops food allergy. NIAID researchers are currently investigating the role that early introduction of common allergens plays in the prevention of food allergy.
There is presently no cure for food allergy, but some experimental immunotherapies may decrease symptoms in some people with food allergy.
Research on disorders related to food allergy, such as oral allergy syndrome and eosinophilic esophagitis, may provide insight into new treatments and prevention options. The relationship between these related problems and food allergy is complex, however, and each condition requires careful monitoring.
Learn more about the current evidence-based recommendations surrounding food allergy in the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States, written by an expert panel convened by NIAID.
NIAID and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct ongoing clinical trials on food allergies and other allergic conditions. Read more about the active clinical trials below:
Gut Bacteria May Protect Against Food Allergy
An NIAID-funded study in mice suggests that gut bacteria play an important role in determining immune responses to food allergens.
Baked Milk May Help Kids Outgrow Milk Allergy Faster
Findings from an NIAID-supported study, appearing online ahead of print in the May 23 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, show that feeding some children with milk allergy foods containing baked milk may help them outgrow their allergy at a faster rate than those who do not eat baked milk.
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