Harvard Health Letter

Adult food allergies

If you didn't grow up with a food allergy, you're not off the hook. They can spring up without warning at any time of life.

Food allergy doesn't rank high on the list of later-life maladies. Only 4% of adults are allergic to a food, and even those who begin life with the most common food allergies — to milk, eggs, wheat, and soy — are likely to outgrow them by the time they enter kindergarten.

Yet no adult is truly immune to food allergy. Some food allergies — especially to peanuts, tree nuts (which include almonds, cashews, and walnuts), fish, and shellfish — persist from childhood. But adults can also be waylaid by allergic reactions to foods they've enjoyed all their lives. Moreover, a food allergy that first rears its head in adulthood isn't likely to go away.

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