Food Allergies

A food allergy is defined as a series of reactions seen after ingestion of a food substance. The most common symptom of a food allergy is mouth swelling and itching along with hives (raised pink bumps that may be confused with bug bites.)

Food allergies occur in almost all children with absence being less common than their presence. Different children are allergic to different food substances and therefore it may be difficult to prevent them.

Signs and symptoms of a food allergy:

  • Hives all over the face and body
  • Swelling and itching of the mouth
  • Running nose
  • Cough
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Trouble breathing and swallowing also called as an anaphylaxis

All these occur within 2 hours of ingestion of a food substance.

The most common allergens:

  • Cow’s milk, soy milk and eggs
  • Peanuts, tree nuts fish and wheat

Of children with a protein food allergy, about 40% have severe reactions with the other 60% only having mild reactions. 

Pollen-Food syndrome

This is also known as Oral Allergy Syndrome. It is a minor reaction to some foods that presents with itching and swelling of the lips and tongue. 

Cross-reactions between the allergies

  • Cow’s milk allergies may react with goat’s milk, almond milk and soy milk.
  • Egg allergies may react with chicken allergies.
  • Tree nuts may react with other nuts.
  • Melon allergies may cross-react with banana and avocado.
  • Most allergies may be outgrown by the age of 16 while others may persist to adulthood.

Call an Ambulance if:

  • There is a life-threatening allergic reaction to similar food that occurred previously
  • Trouble breathing with or without wheezing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Slurred speech and trouble swallowing

A few helpful things when it comes to food allergies:

  • There is no study that recommends avoiding peanut or any food during pregnancy.
  • Using soymilk instead of cow milk has shown no added benefit.
  • Be cautious when initiating solid foods to babies.
  • Delaying in starting high risk foods such as eggs and diary.

Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months along with complementary feeding has been shown to be effective in controlling food allergies.

While there is no way to predict the occurrence of an allergy, it is important that you monitor your child closely especially if there is a family history of food allergies. Children with eczema and asthma should also be monitored for the occurrence of allergies. 

During weaning, slowly introduce new foods while closely monitoring for any of the above symptoms. 

Book an appointment today with one of our Paediatricians at Kids Health Space for any concerns regarding food allergies.