Food elimination diets restrict kids’ growth

March 4, 2013

Children with allergies who are treated with food elimination diets are at risk for impaired nutrition and growth compared with their peers, says new research presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology meeting last week in San Antonio, Texas.

Children with allergies who are treated with elimination diets that avoid allergenic foods are at risk for impaired nutrition and growth compared with their peers, says new research.

The preliminary findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology last week in San Antonio, Texas.

Investigators reviewed charts for 5,037 children aged 1 month to 11 years who were evaluated at pediatric clinics over a 5-year period and selected 245 food-allergic patients (mean age, 4.1 years; mean allergies, 1.87) whom they matched for age and compared with 4,584 healthy controls and 205 patients with cystic fibrosis or celiac disease.

Most participants had peanut (56%), egg (42%), or milk (27%) allergies. Children with milk allergy had more food allergies than children who were not allergic to milk.

Among patients aged older than 2 years, children with food allergies had lower percentiles for weight and body mass index (BMI) compared with healthy controls. Compared with children having 1 or 2 allergies, those with more than 2 allergies had lower percentiles for height and weight, and children with allergy to milk had lower BMI and weight than those with other food allergies.

Controls aged younger than 2 years with celiac disease had the lowest BMIs. Children with milk allergy did not differ significantly in height from those with other allergies, but they showed lower BMIs and weight overall, especially among younger patients.

Researchers note that for children with food allergies, particularly those children aged younger than 2 years, the elimination of more than 2 foods and milk from their diets places them at risk for growth delay. Nutritional assessment and intervention may minimize the impact of elimination diets in pediatric patients with allergies.