Food allergies have become more and more common in recent years.
It is estimated that about 1 in every 13 children suffer from food allergies of some sort.
With that in mind, it is possible that your child may suffer from allergies at some point in life.
While your child may or may not be born with a food allergy, determining if your child is allergic and what that allergen is can be challenging.
We discovered my son was allergic to nuts after struggling with what we thought was a severe illness. He had such terrible diarrhea that his bottom had open wounds that left scars.
He had rashes, eczema, and tons of breathing issues.
We visited countless specialists before they finally determined that he was suffering from a nut allergy.
He has since grown out of it, thankfully.
For those who suspect their child has a food allergy, here are some things you’re probably wondering about.
Food Allergies in Babies: A Quick Q&A
What’s the Difference Between a Food Intolerance and a Food Allergy?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. It can cause a range of symptoms. In some cases, an allergic reaction to a food can be severe or life-threatening. In contrast, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to digestive problems.”
What Do Food Allergy Symptoms Look Like?
Allergies and intolerances can cause a number of symptoms in babies and young children. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between an allergy and another common illness, like a common cold or gastroenteritis. If your child has persistent symptoms or a severe reaction, you may suspect they have a food allergy.
Common allergy symptoms include:
- Respiratory issues like coughing and wheezing
- Mouth or facial swelling
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Colic and fussiness
- Difficulty breathing
If you suspect your child may have a food intolerance or allergy, bring it up with your doctor. If your child appears to be in distress -difficulty breathing or losing consciousness, for example, it’s important you get emergency medical attention immediately.
What Might My Child Be Allergic To?
There are 8 primary allergens. While any food could cause a food allergy, these are ones most likely to cause a reaction in people:
- Tree nuts
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Child Has an Allergy or Intolerance?
If your child’s symptoms are mild, you may be able to wait to address it at your next doctor’s appointment. In the meantime, you will want to keep a food journal about everything your child eats. If you are breastfeeding, you will want to write down everything you eat too. This can be a very helpful tool in helping you and your doctor determine if your child is allergic to something.
Once you’ve tracked yours and your child’s food intake for a few days, start to look for trends that relate to his symptoms. Did he seem really fussy the day you binged on cheesecake? Did he have diarrhea that day? Begin to also track his symptoms in your journal.
This will also help you keep track of improvements if you decide to eliminate things from your child’s diet.
Can I Prevent Food Allergies?
If allergies run in your family, your child is more likely to have them as well. To help, The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends children are breastfed for at least 4 to 6 months. Doing this helps to build your child’s immune system. It is also easiest to digest and least likely to cause an allergic reaction. If breastfeeding can’t happen, they recommend families with a history of allergies choose a hydrolyzed infant formula as a hypoallergenic alternative to cow’s milk and soy formulas.
It is no longer recommended that mothers avoid the common allergens. Research has proven this to be an ineffective method of allergy prevention. It is also recommended that mothers don’t delay introduction of food allergens into their children’s diets once other food items have been introduced and tolerated. Current research indicates that holding off on these may actually lead to allergies in children.
Where Can I learn More?
There are countless online resources to learn more about allergies and to support you and your family once you are diagnosed. The mom.life app is a great place to ask questions about allergies and find other moms dealing with them. The following articles are also super informative: