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Food Allergies in Infant and Children

INTRODUCTION

Due to the increase in food allergies, there has been an interest in how to manage infants and children with these conditions. Food allergy management starts with the pediatrician at birth and continues through adulthood. Allergists should be aware of patients’ diet and environmental factors.

WHAT IS  A FOOD ALLERGY:

When you have a food allergy, there are specific proteins in food that triggers an immune system reaction, which leads to this condition. There is a difference between food allergies and food intolerance, the later one is not an immune-mediated reaction. The symptoms of food allergies usually occur within minutes or several hours after eating a food allergen, and they are often more severe than those of other types of reactions to foods. Hence, only the experienced allergy specialist is able to diagnose the problem and prescribe the best clinical recommendation of medicine for all the related ailments.  

THE MOST COMMON ALLERGIES FOR INFANTS AND CHILDREN:

According to recent studies and estimates, nine out of ten food allergies can be linked to the following eight foods:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

Children are found most likely to be allergic to the following: eggs, milk, peanuts, whole wheat, soy, and tree nuts are also common allergens. Typically, peanuts, tree nuts and seafood causes the most severe reactions. In one year, nearly 5 million children younger than 18 developed food allergies reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019).

SYMPTOMS OF FOOD ALLERGY:

Within minutes to an hour after consuming the food, allergy symptoms can begin. The following symptoms are generally associated with food allergies. The symptoms may vary from child to child. These allergy reactions are as follows but are not limited to:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Eczema
  • Itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth
  • Itching or tightness in the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Lowered blood pressure

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reports that highly allergic individuals don’t need much food to trigger severe reactions. A severe allergic person can be adversely affected by as little as 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel.

Food allergies may have symptoms similar to other medical conditions. One should always consult a doctor to diagnose your child. 

HOW TO PREVENT FOOD ALLERGY:

New EAACI guideline: Preventing the development of food allergy in infants and young children recommended that babies be introduced to basic foods like rice or oat cereal, fruits, and vegetables between the ages of four and six months. Soon after, parents can gradually introduce them to allergenic foods. Why? Early avoidance of food allergens while the immune system is developing can help prevent allergies.

The rate of wheat allergy was higher in 5-year-olds who had not eaten wheat until 6 months of age, (according to two studies from parent.com). An additional study found that delaying wheat consumption until six months of age did not protect children from wheat allergy.

When eggs were first introduced to infants at 4 to 6 months, they had a lower risk of developing egg allergies.

CONCLUSION:

There are a number of different ways to manage your allergies. Finding the right solution is dependent on your symptoms, medical history, sacrifice and medical advice. We encourage you to talk to a professional at Columbia Allergy today to learn more about how we can help you find relief from allergies.

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