Soy Allergy: Will My Child Outgrow It?

April 10, 2010

About 0.4% of children are allergic to soy, making it a common food allergen, but less common than allergy to peanut, cow’s milk or egg.  Since soy is included in many prepared and processed foods, it is a relatively difficult allergen to avoid.

A very common question from parents is whether their child will outgrow a particular food allergy and if so when.  A recent study has shown that although most children outgrow soy allergy at some point, they don’t outgrow it as quickly as previously thought.  The study included 183 children.  Here are the numbers: 25% outgrew the soy allergy by 4 years of age, 45% by 6 years of age and 69% by 10 years of age.

The most common symptoms seen with soy allergy in this study were those relating to the skin such as eczema or hives, and those  related to the gastrointestinal tract such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloody stools.  Only 5% of children with soy allergy in this study presented with lower respiratory tract symptoms such as wheezing or difficulty breathing.

Children with very high levels of soy allergy as determined by soy allergy specific IgE blood testing, tended to grow out of their allergy more slowly.   It might be helpful for your allergist to follow levels over time to help predict when your child might outgrow the allergy.

It is important to point out that although most people with soy allergy develop the allergy as a young child, adults can definitely develop soy allergy at any age.  In my experience soy allergy in adults is sometimes dose dependent with symptoms only occurring upon consumption of large amount of soy.

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