Food Allergies in Babies: Causes & Symptoms
Family History and Food Allergies
If there is a history of food allergy, eczema, hay fever or asthma in your family (one or more of your child’s first-degree relatives i.e. parent or sibling), then there is a higher risk of your child developing a food allergy.
New European expert guidance states that potential allergenic foods do not need to be excluded or introduced late to a child’s diet, even if there is a family history of allergy1. When you do introduce potential allergenic foods, give them one at a time and spaced apart to allow you to monitor any adverse reactions to the food.
What types of food are potential allergens2?
- Cows’ milk
- Tree Nuts
If you feel your child may have an allergic reaction to certain foods talk to your healthcare professional for a correct diagnosis. They will most likely refer you to a Dietitian who will review the symptoms and advise you on the most appropriate diet for your little one. Ensure you have your Doctor or Dietitian’s approval before eliminating any foods from your child’s diet as doing so could possibly deprive your child of essential nutrients.
What do I look out for?
- Eczema or skin irritation, particularly on the face
- Swollen lips and eyes
- Wheezing, runny nose, sore throat and watery eyes
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Reactions can also be more severe, breathing difficulties or a drop in blood pressure (anaphylaxis) may be life threatening, if your child shows these symptoms call emergency services immediately.
Will a food allergy affect my child for his whole life?
It depends on the type of food allergy. For example, majority of children will grow out of cow’s milk allergy by the age of 3 - 5 years3. However, it is unlikely that children will grow out of a nut allergy. Hence, it is important that you monitor your child’s condition closely with your healthcare professional. Do bring your child to be retested occasionally to see if the allergy still exists.
If you suspect your child has cow’s milk allergy, do talk to your healthcare professional. There are specialized formulas available and your healthcare professional will advise you if you need to use one for your child.
1. Abrams, E. M., & Becker, A. B. (2015). Food introduction and allergy prevention in infants. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4646750/.
2. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. (n.d.). Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children. Retrieved from https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/prevention-of-allergies-and-asthma-in-children
3. Caffarelli et al. 2010. Cow’s milk protein allergy in children: a practical guide. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 36:5
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