Food allergies in children are very common and are often overlooked due to delayed reactions or a lack of obvious symptoms. While we all think of anaphylactic shock as the quintessential allergic reaction, many common food allergies express themselves in many different ways. Symptoms of food allergies include:
While technically a child can be allergic to any food, there are some common food allergies such as milk, corn, soy, nuts, eggs, shellfish,and citrus make up the vast percentage of foods children have reactions to.
Since a child may be allergic to any food it is important to introduce foods 3 to 5 days apart and watch for symptoms. Ideally a food record would be kept to monitor times of meals and symptoms as well as bowel movements, complaints of nausea and anything else that may leave a clue as to what food your child is allergic to.
If you suspect a milk allergy you may want to eliminate soy as well. Many children reactive to milk are also reactive to soy.
If you think your child may have FAs, it is recommended you get food allergy testing to confirm the diagnosis. Various tests are available to determine allergies. Although these tests aren’t perfect, they can give you an idea as to what foods need to be avoided.
Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s important to plan a diet avoiding all offending foods. There are a few different treatments for food allergies. The most common treatment is diet, followed by antihistamines and finally use of an epi-pen.The epi-pen is an emergency treatment however, and primary action is avoidance of the food whenever possible.
Children need to be educated on what they are allergic to as well as taught what they should say to people who don't know about food allergies. These children need to be mature enough to realize the potential danger of eating a food they are allergic to and be strong enough to resist temptation. Teachers, nurses, daycare workers and babysitters must be educated on what your child can and cannot eat, and well meaning grandparents and family members need to be taught as well. This is not a diet they can cheat on. These foods are like poison to your child's body, and if grandma lets her eat that peanut butter cookie she can become very sick. Food allergies in children are serious. The gravity of the situation needs to be stressed so the adults in her life do not sabotoge things.
If you need help with diet planning, have questions, or need assistance figuring out what to say to your child's caregivers about your children with food allergies, an appointment with a dietitian can help.