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Avoid Going Nuts over Childhood Food Allergies

Signs to look for and precautions to take.

Eggs, milk and peanuts may seem like common kitchen items to some. But to children with childhood allergies, these foods can cause serious allergic reactions. Kelsey-Seybold allergist Eric Sandberg, M.D., breaks down what signs parents should look for.

​W​hat food allergies are children most prone to?

Cow milk and eggs are common for causing allergic reactions in children. In addition, some infants may be allergic to soy and wheat, while older children may react to eating peanuts, tree nuts and seafood.

What is the safest way to introduce new foods to your child?

Foods should be introduced one at a time. When a new food is introduced, monitor your child for three to four days to see if any reactions occur before introducing another new food.

What kinds of allergic reactions can occur?

When a child has an allergic reaction to food, rashes, itching, swelling of the lips, mouth and eyes may occur. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain (which in an infant may present as fussiness) are also common reactions.

What signs may indicate an allergic reaction?

Be mindful of rashes, swelling of the lips, eyes, and face, abdominal pain, vomiting and loose stools. Wheezing and difficulty breathing are serious symptoms, but they don’t occur as often as other reactions. Falling down is a serious, but rare occurrence.

If your child is diagnosed with food allergies, what precautions should you take?

Avoidance is the best strategy. Make sure your child’s daycare or school is aware of their allergy. Be sure not to have foods with allergy inducing ingredients around your house. Your child’s pediatrician or allergist may prescribe an epinephrine injection, which is used to treat potentially serious or life threatening allergic reactions caused by insect bites, foods, medications, latex, and other causes. If your child has a very serious or complex reaction, your child’s pediatric doctor may choose to refer them to an allergy specialist.

How can food allergies be treated?

Skin reactions are often not too serious and may be treated with an antihistamine, such as Benadryl®, but be sure to give it to your child immediately. An Epinephrine injection may be prescribed if your child has a serious risk of reaction. Children who are in need of long-term management for serious reactions may need to see an allergist for tests for confirmation of their allergy and management therapy.

Do children grow out of food alle​rgies?

Some children outgrow cow milk, egg and wheat allergies. Those with peanut and seafood allergies are likely to have long-term sensitization.