Clinical Practice Guidelines
Food allergy is an emerging major public health problem that affects 3-4% of adults and 6-8% of children in the United States, and appears to be increasing in prevalence. Food allergy is associated with severe reactions, and is the most common cause of emergency room visits for anaphylaxis. Even though persons with food allergies attempt to avoid known allergens, reactions from unintentional exposure are relatively common and in a two-year period, approximately 50% of food allergic subjects will have an unintentional exposure that leads to an allergic reaction.
Despite the risk of severe allergic reactions, and even death, there is no current treatment other than allergen avoidance and treating the symptoms associated with severe reactions. Moreover, the diagnosis of food allergy may be problematic given that non-allergic food reactions, such as food intolerance, are frequently classified as food allergies.
On March 13-14, 2006, at the request of Congress, an expert panel of national and international food allergy experts was convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address issues in food allergy research. In its report the panel examined the current state of NIH-funded food allergy research and developed and prioritized a list of recommendations to the HHS Secretary on key opportunities and research directions. (View the Report of the NIH Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research )
On July 19, 2007, the NIAID, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) co-organized a one-day workshop entitled “Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy.” More than 20 professional societies, patient advocacy groups, and several NIH Institutes sent representatives to this meeting. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the potential value of clinical guidelines to be generated with input from a broad range of health care providers who diagnose and treat patients with food allergies and diseases related to food allergy such as atopic dermatitis, asthma and eosinophilic esophagitis. Health care professionals from a variety of clinical specialties (including allergy, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and gastroenterology) participated in the workshop. The workshop participants concluded that a significant need exists for guidelines that could be used in a variety of clinical and health care settings. (View the meeting summary of Developing Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food)
Based on the need identified, the NIAID undertook to develop clinical practice guidelines that would provide guidance to medical practitioners on the diagnosis, management, and treatment of food allergies. One particular goal was to create guidelines that would have broad clinical utility.
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