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Avoid Going Nuts Over Childhood Food Allergies
Eggs, milk, and peanuts may seem like healthy food staples to most people. But to children with childhood allergies, these foods can cause serious allergic reactions. Kelsey-Seybold allergist Eric Sandberg, MD, breaks down what signs parents should look for to know if their children have food allergies and what measures to take if they do.
Which 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’s the safest way to introduce new foods to my 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, and swelling can occur on or around the lips, mouth, and eyes. 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 my child is diagnosed with food allergies, what precautions should I 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 after a reaction. An epinephrine injection may be prescribed if your child has a risk of serious reaction. Children who need long-term management for serious reactions may need to see an allergist for tests that confirm their allergy as well as management therapy.
Do children grow out of food allergies?
Some children outgrow cow milk, egg, and wheat allergies. Those with peanut and seafood allergies are likely to have long-term sensitization.