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ACAAI: Strict Diet Due to Food Allergy May Harm Children

Restrictive diet due to food allergy may lead to failure to thrive and nutritional deficiencies

MONDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Children prescribed restrictive diets due to food allergies may have nutritional deficiencies and fail to thrive, according to two cases presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Philadelphia.

Mary Beth Preston, a pediatric dietician at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and colleagues describe the cases of two children who failed to thrive due to excessive dietary restrictions.

The first case involved an 18-month-old male presenting with rash, edema and irritability, and weighing only 10.4 kg. Six months previously, he had been switched to enriched rice milk, which constituted 75 percent of his calories, due to milk protein sensitivity. The patient was given a hydrolysate formula, which increased his weight by 5 percent after 17 days in the hospital.

The second case involved a 13-month-old female presenting with atopic dermatitis, cellulitis and food allergies, and weighing only 7.4 kg. Five months previously, milk, wheat, egg, corn, soy and peanut had been eliminated from her diet due to allergies, and fruit juice constituted 50 to 75 percent of her calories. The patient was given an elemental formula, which increased her weight by 2 percent after four days in the hospital.

"Elimination diets prescribed to the child diagnosed with food allergy may result in failure to thrive and other severe nutritional deficiencies," Preston and colleagues conclude. "Intensive nutritional assessment and management should be included following the institution of restrictive allergen-free diets."

For more information, go to the Web site of the ACAAI's annual meeting (More Information).

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