Tremendous progress has been made in our understanding of food-based allergic disorders over the past 5 years. Recent epidemiologic studies suggest that nearly 4% of Americans are afflicted with food allergies, a prevalence much higher than appreciated in the past. In addition, the prevalence of peanut allergy was found to have doubled in American children less than 5 years of age in the past 5 years. Many food allergens have been characterized at the molecular level, which has contributed to our increased understanding of the immunopathogenesis of many allergic disorders and might soon lead to novel diagnostic and immunotherapeutic approaches. The management of food allergies continues to consist of educating patients on how to avoid relevant allergens, to recognize early symptoms of an allergic reaction in case of an accidental ingestion, and to initiate the appropriate emergency therapy. However, the recent successful clinical trial of anti-IgE therapy in patients with peanut allergy and the number of immunomodulatory therapies in the pipeline provide real hope that we will soon be able to treat patients with food allergy.
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