What should Parents know about food Allergies?
What is a food allergy?
Food allergies occur when the body's immune system reacts to a protein in a specific food. When exposed to the food, the body produces antibodies to the protein. Once enough antibodies build up, an exposure to the food will trigger allergic symptoms.
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance is an abnormal but non-allergic reaction to a food. With food intolerance, a person usually does not make enough of a certain enzyme needed to digest some part of a food.
What are the symptoms of a food allergy?
Diarrhoea and vomiting are the most common symptoms. Skin rashes, itching, runny nose, wheezing, tightness in the throat, and swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth may also occur.
Symptoms may appear within a few minutes or take as long as 48 hours to appear.
If I am allergic to a food, will my child be allergic, too?
If a parent or sibling is allergic to a food, your child may be more likely to develop an allergy. However, you may increase the chances of preventing a food allergy if you eliminate the offending food from your toddler's diet.
Can food allergies be prevented?
Delaying the introduction of highly allergenic foods may help. If a child has a family history of allergies, it is best not to introduce cow's milk, soy, wheat, corn, and citrus until after the first birthday. High-risk children also should not eat eggs before their second birthday or peanuts and fish before their third birthday.
How is a food allergy treated?
The only way to treat a food allergy is to avoid the troublesome food.
To do so completely, parents must carefully read the labels of processed foods for ingredients that are variations of the offending food.
Will my child have her food allergy or intolerance for life?
It depends. About half of all children who develop a food allergy before age 3 eventually outgrow it, usually by about age 7 years.
Children who develop an allergy after age 3 years are less likely to outgrow it.
Allergies to nuts and shellfish are more likely to persist for life. Also, intolerances such as wheat sensitivity in celiac disease are lifelong conditions.
How can I tell whether my child had outgrown her food allergy?
If you want to test, a food challenge should only be performed under your doctor's supervision in his office. Never attempt a food challenge yourself at home.