All About Food Allergies

FoodAllergies2Food allergies, which are abnormal immune responses to food, are becoming more and more common in kids. Here are the basics of what they are, and what you can do to help your kids if they have them.

What are signs my child has a food allergy?  Food allergy symptoms vary – they can be mild or severe depending on just how allergic your child is to the offending food and how much he or she ingested. Symptoms can appear within minutes of eating the food or be delayed up to several hours. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction are clear cut and hard to miss. However, more mild allergy symptoms include: hives, eczema, redness of skin around the eyes, itchy mouth or ear, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, abdominal pain, nasal congestion, sneezing, slight cough, odd taste, and uterine contractions.

Should I see a doctor? If you suspect your child has a food allergy, it would be wise to see a doctor. Your doctor will review your child’s health history, perform a thorough exam, and determine whether or not he or she may need certain allergy tests such as Skin Prick Testing (which involves just what it sounds like) or Rash Testing (a blood test). Your doctor may also recommend making certain changes to your child’s diet and recording responses in a food diary for a period of time.

What foods might my child be allergic to? The top food allergies in children include: milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and seafood. While many other foods have been identified as potential allergens, together, these seven foods represent 90% of all food allergies in children. For children who are born into families with a history of allergies, many doctors recommend avoiding milk until age 1, eggs until age 2, and peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish until age 3.

Will my child grow out of it?  Most children outgrow allergies to milk, wheat, egg, and soy. While it’s possible that he or she may outgrow a peanut allergy, it’s far less likely. If you think your child’s allergy issue might be resolving, talk to your doctor before reintroducing foods back into his or her diet. Your doctor can perform tests to see if your child’s tolerance has, in fact, improved.