The most common food allergies in children and adults

The following foods are the most common food allergens for infants and children:

  • Cow’s milk (symptoms occurring after the consumption of milk or dairy products do not necessarily mean an allergy to cow's milk, as Lactose Intolerance can also trigger the symptoms, particularly if small quantities are tolerated).
  • Soy (soybeans are legumes found in more and more processed foods. Also look for the following names: edamame, tofu, tempeh, E322 lecithin (soy), E426 soybean polyose).
  • Chicken eggs (a chicken protein allergy is a classic early-childhood food allergy, which is often outgrown. It occurs much less frequently in adulthood).
  • Wheat (symptoms occurring after the consumption of wheat products do not necessarily mean that there is a wheat allergy. If the symptoms also occur after the consumption of other native grain cultivars such as barley or spelt, it could also indicate Celiac disease or an insufficiently-researched wheat sensitivity.
  • Peanuts (although peanuts appear to be nuts, they are technically in the legume family, along with soybeans. Peanuts are particularly sensitive allergens - even the smallest amounts can cause the most severe allergic reactions, including allergic shock).
  • Hazelnuts

Adolescents and adults are particularly sensitive to the following foods:

  • Raw vegetables (allergic reactions to carrots and celery are particularly common).
  • Raw fruit (particularly apples, as well as other pip- and stone- fruits).

These are particularly common triggers for food allergies. However, symptoms that occur after consuming fruits and vegetables do not necessarily indicate a food allergy; fructose malabsorption should also be considered in these cases. 

Additional common food allergens in adulthood include:

  • Peanuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Cow's milk
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Shellfish

While allergies are relatively common, they aren't to be "assumed," as often times there are other underlying causes to reactions. Frequently, food intolerances or illnesses can trigger symptoms - not allergies. Symptoms occurring after consumption, especially of fish, crustaceans and shellfish, may also indicate a histamine intolerance, as opposed to an allergic reaction.

Can food allergies be prevented?

Scientists classify tobacco smoke as a strong allergy- and asthma-promoting agent.
Where nutrition is concerned, the recommendation is to breastfeed babies exclusively in the first four months or, for at-risk infants or those that cannot be adequately breastfed, to adhere to a hypoallergenic diet. Subsequently, it is recommended that parents introduce new foods slowly, and to follow the recommendations of their pediatrician.

Families in which both parents suffer from allergies are advised not to keep pets. Keeping cats, in particular, appears to increase the risk for children to develop an allergy. The experts also advise of regular ventilation; in poorly ventilated rooms, mold can develop – which is a common source of allergic reactions. 

Further reading:

Food allergy symptoms

Causes of food allergies

Diagnosing food allergies

Food allergy treatment