Food Hypersensitivity Clinic
Children's Hospital & Medical Center's Food Hypersensitivity Clinic is one of only a few in the entire country. The clinic specializes in diagnosing and treating children with the most severe food intolerances. A food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food protein. Severe food intolerances can stunt your child's growth, interfere with weight gain and can cause significant acid reflux.
For reasons unknown, food allergies are growing in prevalence. It is estimated that up to 12 million Americans have food allergies and six to eight percent of children under the age of 3 have food allergies. The most common food allergies in children are milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. Other common food allergies include seafood, shellfish, soy and wheat allergies. Food hypersensitivity in children can take many forms, including food allergies, food-induced anaphylaxis, chronic abdominal pain, reflux symptoms, diarrhea, vomiting and, in rare cases, shock.
Treating chronic or severe food-related illnesses often requires a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach. Our team includes a number of highly trained pediatric professionals including a gastroenterologist, dietitian and an allergy and asthma specialist.
The care team, which is available for both consultation and referral, evaluates:
- Children with documented or suspected food allergy reactions
- Children with gastroesophageal reflux disorders
- Children with eosinophilic gastroenteropathy
- Babies with exaggerated formula intolerance
- Children with hypereosinophilic conditions
Diagnosis of food allergies is achieved through allergy skin testing and blood testing. In cases in which chronic gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and other health problems exist, an endoscopy may be recommended to determine the presence of allergic blood cells (eosinophils) in the lining of the GI tract, often the source of the GI symptoms.
Treatment of food allergies involves a comprehensive team approach provided under the direction of an allergist, gastroenterologist and dietitian. Treatment may involve a combination of food avoidance and asthma medications to block the allergic response in the GI tract and to relieve symptoms. For children who are extremely sensitive to the food allergen, this may involve the total avoidance of any exposure with the allergen, including touching or inhaling the problematic food as well as touching any surfaces that may have come into contact with it.
Russell J. Hopp, D.O., allergist/immunologist
Fernando Zapata, M.D., gastroenterologist
Kristie Schwab, R.N.
Robyn Gilligan, RN, CPN