Food allergies are an immune system response that can cause a range of responses in the body. Allergic reactions to food can result in itching, inflammation and shortness of breath. In rare instances severe food allergies can even be fatal. This is particularly concerning with children, especially those that are too young to describe their symptoms or tell you what is wrong.
Common Food Allergies
When it comes to food allergies, there are only a handful of culprits that are responsible for 90% of these allergies. The problem is these foods occur in much of what we eat today as either the main ingredient or included therein. These staple foods include milk, eggs, wheat and soy. Other common food allergies include tree nuts and peanuts with these being some of the most dangerous and potentially life threatening. Fish and seafood are also common causes of food-related allergies.
In children, primarily due to diet, the most common allergy inducing foods are milk, eggs, and tree nuts, including peanuts. About five percent of all children will be allergic to one of these foods.
How Do I Know If My Child Is Having An Allergic Reaction?
Most allergic reactions will occur within about an hour of ingesting the specific food. Early symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps, swelling, or an outbreak of hives which can cause itching and eczema. More serious reactions include difficulty breathing, wheezing and a lowered blood pressure. This can result in an anaphylaxis reaction which can cause your child to pass out. If not treated quickly, this can be life threatening.
Even babies can have food allergies as breast milk can transmit small amounts of those allergens that are present in a mother’s diet. That said, breastfeeding is one of the best ways to build your child’s immunity.
It is recommended to breastfeed your baby for at least six months after birth and not give them any solid foods until this age. Babies that are colic, fussy, demonstrate poor growth or have blood in their stool, may be having an allergic reaction. You might need to try a soy milk formula if it turns out your baby is allergic to regular milk-based formulas.
What Can I Do To Prevent A Food Allergy
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent your children from having an allergic reaction to food or to know if they will be prone to this happening. Of course, once you know, then you can avoid those specific foods in your child’s diet.
In order to diagnose a food allergy you need to take your child to a doctor who will discuss the symptoms with you, look at similar conditions in your family and likely to a skin and blood test to check for allergic reactions.
Do Children Outgrow Food Allergies?
While many children will outgrow their initial allergic reactions to the likes of eggs, soy and milk, unfortunately more serious allergies, like those associated with peanuts and shellfish are often lifelong. Children who are likely to outgrow their food allergy will have done so by around five years of age.