Food Allergy

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 allergies can be very difficult for those living with the allergy, and their families and caregivers. Food allergies can be life-threatening, and avoiding allergens, particularly those frequently used in food preparation, can be challenging. Food allergy prevalence is rising, and scientists are working to better understand why. 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. 

If you have a food allergy and need practical ways to avoid packaged products that contain food allergens, the Food and Drug Administration offers information.

Causes & Prevention

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.


Read more about research to identify causes of food allergy and assess strategies for prevention

Treatment for Living with Food Allergy

There is presently no cure for food allergy, but some experimental immunotherapies may decrease symptoms in some people with food allergy.


Read more research that improves the lives of people living with food allergy

Characterizing Food Allergy & Addressing Related Disorders

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.


Read more about research that characterizes food allergy and addresses related disorders

Guidelines for Clinicians & Patients

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.


Read more about food allergy guidelines for clinicians and patients

Clinical Trials

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:

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