An increasing number of children are being treated in hospital for allergic reactions to everyday foods such as milk and bread, a leading children's doctor has claimed.

Dr Nikhil Thapar, a consultant gastroenterologist and clinician scientist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said a rising number of children are being diagnosed with allergies to common foods such as cow's milk, wheat, soya, eggs and celery.

It is estimated four per cent of children suffer with food allergies.

Dr Thapar claimed difficulties in identifying the allergy can mean children have to wait years to get a proper diagnosis. However, improved methods of testing, which may be developed in the next couple of years may prove to be more successful.

He said: "We all feel it's a real increasing trend but the diagnosis is still difficult and I've known some cases where it's taken four years, partly because it can take days or even two weeks for an offending food to cause a reaction.

"The burden of disease for these children is significant, they suffer distressing symptoms such as abdominal and bowel pain and miss school as a result."

The NHS issues guidelines earlier this year to help GPs identify and treat food allergies. It also told parents to avoid buying home DIY allergy test kits.

Posted by Robert Mair on 15.8.11 Please send your comments on this article to: 

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