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Drs. Mildred Kwan and Onyinye Iweala

A recent review article published in JAMA by Drs. Edward Iglesia, Mildred Kwan, Yamini Virkud, and Onyinye Iweala reviewed the prevalence, diagnosis, and management of IgE-mediated food allergies in the United States.

IgE-mediated allergic reactions to food are caused by immunoglobulin (Ig)E allergy antibodies. Such reactions typically occur within minutes of ingestion and may cause anaphylaxis, and in rare cases, death. However, delayed allergic responses to red (mammalian) meat are common among adults with alpha-gal syndrome (mammalian meat allergy associated with tick bites).

Observations from the article highlighted nine foods—crustacean shellfish, dairy, peanut, tree nuts, fin fish, egg, wheat, soy, and sesame—that account for 90% of IgE-mediated food allergies in the United States. The review also reported that an estimated 7.6% of children and 10.8% of adults in the US have IgE-mediated food allergies. Alpha-gal syndrome affects an estimated 96,000 to 450,000 individuals in the US and currently stands as a leading cause of food-related anaphylaxis in adults.

The authors stressed the importance of timely treatment with self-injectable epinephrine for food-related anaphylaxis and underscored avoidance strategies for managing both food-protein allergies and alpha-gal syndrome.

Read the full article in JAMA.

Edward Iglesia, MD, MPH, is a former UNC allergy fellow and currently an instructor in medicine at Vanderbilt University. Mildred Kwan, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of medicine and Onyinye Iweala, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor of medicine in the UNC Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology. Yamini Virkud, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of pediatrics specializing in the field of pediatric allergy and immunology at UNC.