It is possible to outgrow certain food allergies, such as eggs or milk. However, other food allergies, such as peanut and tree nut allergies, can continue into adulthood.

Food allergies can cause various symptoms that range in severity from mild to life threatening. As a result, people with more severe allergies need to avoid the allergen.

In some cases, a person may outgrow a food allergy. To confirm they have outgrown an allergen, a person should contact an allergist.

This article reviews everything to know about outgrowing food allergies, including which allergies a person is likely and unlikely to outgrow.

It will also discuss at what ages a person is likely to outgrow a food allergy.

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It is possible for a person to outgrow a food allergy as they age.

Evidence suggests that the prevalence of food allergies decreases with age. Between 2–5% of adults have a food allergy, compared with 6–8% of children.

Food allergies most often develop in infancy and childhood. It is also possible to develop food allergies later in life, even into adulthood.

Food allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a particular food or a substance in the food. The immune system mistakenly identifies the food or substance as harmful. This results in an allergic reaction, which can cause mild to life threatening symptoms, such as:

  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the:
    • throat
    • mouth
    • tongue
    • face
  • upset stomach
  • lightheadedness

The following foods comprise 90% of all food allergies:

  • eggs
  • milk
  • peanuts
  • seafood, such as fish, crustaceans, or shellfish, including:
    • crab
    • shrimp
    • lobster
  • tree nuts, such as:
    • almonds
    • walnuts
    • pecans
    • pistachios
    • macadamia nuts
  • soybeans
  • wheat
  • sesame

Of these, children are most likely to outgrow the following food allergies:

  • Wheat: A person usually outgrows by the time they reach adolescence. Approximately 80% of children will outgrow a wheat allergy.
  • Cow milk: A person typically outgrows this allergy between ages 4–16. Approximately 79% of children will outgrow a cow milk allergy.
  • Eggs: A person typically outgrows this allergy between ages 4–16. Approximately 68% of children will outgrow an egg allergy.

Although unlikely, it is possible for a person to outgrow a peanut allergy. However, there is a higher chance that a person may redevelop the allergy due to infrequent peanut exposure.

If a person believes they have outgrown a food allergy, they should consult an allergist before trying to eat the triggering food. The allergist can help determine if the person has outgrown the allergy.

While a person can outgrow some food allergies, others may persist into adulthood.

Seafood allergies and tree nut or peanut allergies are the most common food allergies affecting adults. These allergies may affect up to 2% of the United States population.

Anaphylaxis UK suggests that people are less likely to outgrow the following food allergies:

  • Peanut: Approximately 20% of children will outgrow their peanut allergy.
  • Tree nut: Between 9–14% of children may outgrow their tree nut allergy.
  • Shellfish: Shellfish allergies are likely to persist for life.

Tree nut and peanut allergies may begin in childhood. However, a person is more likely to develop a seafood allergy in adulthood than in childhood.

When a person outgrows a food allergy varies greatly on the allergen and the person. Everyone’s body will respond differently to food allergens. This makes it difficult to predict when a person may outgrow an allergy.

Parents or guardians should consult an allergist to determine when and if it is safe to give their child certain foods.

The older a child gets, the more likely they may be to outgrow a food allergy. For example, about 19% of 4-year-olds have outgrown a milk allergy. In contrast, an estimated 79% of 16-year-olds have outgrown the same allergy.

The same research indicates similar results for egg allergies. About 4% of 4-year-olds outgrow it compared with 68% of 16-year-olds.

Wheat allergies tend to resolve by age 5.

A person should speak with an allergist. They can recommend the best way for a person to see if they have outgrown their allergy.

A skin or blood test can help confirm if a person has outgrown an allergy. These tests can help an allergist understand the likelihood that a person has outgrown the allergy.

A person may be able to use an at-home test kit.

Learn more about 6 of the best at-home allergy tests.

Caregivers should speak with an allergist to learn if they can do anything to help a child outgrow a food allergy.

A 2018 article notes that researchers are currently investigating food allergen-specific therapies. These may be able to help desensitize a person to the allergen. Desensitization may reduce the risk of developing an allergic reaction.

Researchers are currently investigating the following immunotherapy treatments:

  • Oral: For this therapy, a person consumes a very small dose of the food under strict medical supervision. The dosage increases every 2 weeks to reach a maintenance dose. This process can take several months.
  • Sublingual: Researchers have tried this method for milk, hazelnut, peanut, and kiwi allergies. It involves an allergist placing food extracts under the tongue. Similarly to oral immunotherapy, they will slowly increase the dose over several months to reach a maintenance dose. While it may be safer than oral immunotherapy, lower doses may not be as effective.
  • Epicutaneous: This method may work for milk and peanut allergies. An allergist will apply a soluble form of the allergen onto the surface of the skin. This method may be more effective in children ages 6–11.

While some people may use allergies and intolerances interchangeably, they are not the same thing.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, a food allergy involves the immune system. In contrast, food intolerance involves the digestive system.

Food intolerances occur when the digestive system is unable to break down a certain food.

A food allergy can result in life threatening symptoms. Food intolerance is not life threatening and can result in symptoms such as:

  • bloating
  • sluggishness
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea

Learn more about at-home food sensitivity tests.

It is possible for a person to outgrow some food allergies. The majority of people who do will outgrow them by the time they reach adolescence.

People are more likely to outgrow some food allergies compared with others. People are more likely to outgrow milk, egg, and wheat allergies.

People are less likely to outgrow allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish.

People can undergo testing in an allergist’s office to learn if they have outgrown a food allergy.