Food allergies are becoming an increasingly common issue in babies and young children today.
Allergies are an overaction of the body’s immune system to a suspected foreign intruder. Food allergies can cause minor symptoms such as a diaper rash or can cause a serious and potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Kids who suffer from food allergies should remain under the care of an experienced pediatrician or allergist to manage their allergy treatment plan.
Things to discuss with your child’s doctor include allergy testing, allergy shots, obtaining a prescription for an EpiPen, and creating an allergy action plan for school and other childcare settings. Your allergy action plan will cover when to give over-the-counter treatments such as Benadryl for an allergic reaction, and when to reach for an EpiPen. Your doctor can also help you figure out ways to avoid the allergen in your child’s diet.
The most common foods that children can develop an allergy to include:
Milk: Cow’s milk is a common allergy among babies and toddlers, causing many parents to have to switch to a different type of infant formula. Cow’s milk can cause symptoms like colic, vomiting, diaper rash, and eczema in babies with a milk sensitivity or allergy.
Soy: Many children who are allergic to milk are also allergic to soy. If your baby cannot tolerate cow’s milk or soy formula, your pediatrician can recommend alternatives such as a hydrolyzed protein formula or an amino acid elemental formula.
Eggs: About 2% of kids will experience an allergic reaction to eggs, but many will outgrow this allergy by the time they reach their teenage years. Most children who react poorly to eggs are allergic to the protein that is found in the egg white. Some kids are able to tolerate egg yolks or small amounts of eggs in baked goods, since the cooking process breaks down this protein.
Peanuts: Peanuts represent one of the most common (and most dangerous) food allergies in kids. Even a small trace of peanuts can cause a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction in a child with a peanut allergy. Therefore, parents of a child with a peanut allergy must be extremely diligent when dining out and must carefully read food labels in order to avoid cross-contamination.
Tree Nuts: Children with a peanut allergy are also more likely to have a tree-nut allergy. Tree nuts include walnuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. While kids may be allergic to just one or all tree nuts, it is probably beneficial to just avoid the entire tree nut family, as cross-contamination can be very common. A tree nut allergy can be just as serious as a peanut allergy, so if your child has these allergies, it is best to use extreme caution.
Wheat: Wheat or gluten sensitivity is another common food allergy that shows up often in kids. Symptoms may range from a minor reaction to full-blown Celiac disease. These allergic reactions may lessen as the child grows older.
Please note: In addition to carrying potential remedies such as Benadryl and an EpiPen, parents should become educated on reading food labels and must learn how to avoid cross-contamination in processed foods and when dining out.
If you suspect any food allergies or have any questions about your child’s diet, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified pediatricians.