Around the world, children are far more likely than ever before to develop food allergies, writes Alexandra Santos, MD, for BBC News.
Recent inquiries into the deaths of two British teenagers after eating sesame and peanut highlighted the sometimes tragic consequences. In August, a six-year-old girl in Western Australia died as the result of a dairy allergy.
The rise in allergies in recent decades has been particularly noticeable in the West. Food allergy now affects about 7% of children in the UK and 9% of those in Australia, for example. Across Europe, 2% of adults have food allergies.
Life-threatening reactions can be prompted even by traces of the trigger foods, meaning patients and families live with fear and anxiety. The dietary restrictions which follow can become a burden to social and family lives.