Food Allergies in Children 

Food allergies in children are immune system responses to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. They are often misdiagnosed because the child is unable to communicate symptoms.

They effect between 1% to 2% of all children, although estimates range from .3% to 38%. 

Symptoms of food allergies (FA) usually appear in the first year of a child’s life and often disappear within 9 months. It has been found that if there is a family history of them, children are more likely to also have them than children without a family history, although not always to the same foods.


Symptoms of Food Allergy Include:

  • Hives
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Eczema
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Anaphylactic Shock
  • Coughing
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Asthma

A reaction can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to occur, and severity of the reaction depends on how much of the food was eaten, how often and even physical or emotional stress.

The most common food allergies likely to cause reactions in children include:

1. Cow's milk

2. Soy

3. Wheat

4. Eggs

Other foods that less commonly cause reactions are oranges, chocolate, corn, peanuts, legumes, rice, fish, beef, pork and chicken.

If allergies or intolerances are suspected, a professional evaluation should always be conducted. They are not to be taken lightly and can cause troublesome feeding situations, including failure to thrive and aversions to eating.

If your child tests positive to any of the foods listed above, it is recommended that all forms and all foods containing that as an ingredient be avoided. This is especially important if your child is very young or disabled and is unable to communicate. Avoidance of all traces of the offending food is critical in improving your child's health and may eventually lead to them eating a greater variety and amount of food.

Think about it; if you didn't feel well every time you ate something, would you want to eat it? Of course not! And no one would expect you to. That's how it is for children who have reactions to common foods. If your child has a reaction to eggs, for example, they may feel sick everytime they are offered eggs, pasta, baked goods or fried foods. As a result, they resist these foods and are viewed as difficult or picky eaters.

Since planning a diet for a child with food allergies can be challenging, you may want to see a dietitian to review what foods you child can have and which ones they need to avoid. Pediatric dietitians are nutrition professionals with training in planning tricky diets. Pediatric nutritionists and dietitians provide an invaluable service to parents at their wits end trying to give their child a healthy diet.

Alternatively, try this meal planner free. It will eliminate any specified allergies. I would also recommend joining the FAAN.If you suspect your child has food allergies but has never been tested, it is recommended you get your child tested before modifying your child's diet. If testing is negative there is no reason to restrict her diet.

Eosinophilic esophagitis is a condition caused by unidentified FAs that causes inflammation in the esophagus. For this disorder it is important to completely eliminate all possible allergens by using an elemental diet.If you suspect your child may have EE, speak to your doctor about it. For more detailed information on allergens and intolerances, consider these highly recommended books.