Food Allergies In Children
A recent Australian study showed that up to 10% of children under the age of 1 year have a food allergy. The most common allergens are egg, cow’s milk, peanuts, soy, wheat and tree nuts.
Food allergies are different from a food intolerance. Food allergy symptoms will generally present within 2 hours of eating the food (often within 15min), symptoms suggestive of a mild to moderate food allergy are, swelling of eyes, lips, face, hives, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Severe food allergy symptoms are noisy breathing/wheeze, throat swelling or tightness, hoarse voice, loss of consciousness, an ambulance needs to be called if these symptoms occur in response to food ingestion.
All concerns of possible food allergy should be discussed with your doctor and avoid that food until you have spoken with your doctor. If someone has had a mild reaction once, this does not mean their reaction will always be mild, subsequent reactions may be more severe.
Current guidelines recommend breastfeeding and early introduction of allergenic foods, generally from 6 months, no younger than 4 months of age. Introduce all foods early and 1 at a time. The website nip allergies in the bub is an excellent resource with information and suggestions about introducing food https://preventallergies.org.au . It is important to keep regularly giving the foods that have been tolerated eg egg, milk and peanuts, ensuring there is a small amount in a child’s diet twice a week.
Avoid using any products on a child’s skin that contain food products. This includes anything with coconut or nut oil, goat or cow’s milk etc. If a potential food allergen is presented to the skin there is a much higher risk of the body developing an allergic reaction to it than if it is given via the mouth. Do not rub a food on a child’s skin to see if they have a reaction to it, this actually increases the risk of a child developing an allergy to this food. Use simple non-perfumed emollients on skin.
Blog by Dr Sarah Booker