The clinical and laboratory features of 68 children with food intolerance or food allergy are reviewed. Young children were affected the most with 79% first experiencing symptoms before age 1 year. Forty-eight (70%) children presented with gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhoea, colic, abdominal pain, failure to thrive), 16 (24%) children with skin manifestations (eczema, urticaria, angioneurotic oedema, other rashes), and 4 (6%) children with wheeze. Twenty-one children had failed to thrive before diagnosis. A single food (most commonly cows' milk) was concerned in 28 (41%) cases. Forty (59%) children had multiple food intolerance or allergy; eggs, cows' milk, and wheat were the most common. Diagnosis was based on observing the effect of food withdrawal and of subsequent rechallenge. In many children food withdrawal will mean the use of an elimination diet which requires careful supervision by a dietician. Laboratory investigations were often unhelpful in suggesting or confirming the diagnosis.
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