What Are Complimentary Food Allergens in Your Baby?
Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht Updated on Jan 22, 2021
Once your baby turns six-months-old, it is important for you to introduce complementary foods in his/her daily diet to meet the growing needs of your baby. However, this needs to be gradually taken care of because the complementary foods should match the digestive capacity of your infant. This will also reduce the chances of allergic reactions in your infant due to any complementary food. Food allergies are becoming prevalent in India with around 6-8% of children suffering from it. (Source: Journal of scientific and industrial research; SV Gangal & B K Malik).
You may be wondering, why food allergy in my baby? A food allergy occurs when certain food (allergen) causes an immune reaction – which means, it causes the production of immune antibodies and symptoms like hives, swelling of lips, eyes or face, vomiting and wheezing come to surface.
Mild to moderate symptoms of food allergy include:
- Swelling of face, lips and/or eyes
- Hives or welts on the skin
- Abdominal pain and vomiting
Signs of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to foods include:
- Difficulty in breathing or noisy breathing
- Swelling of tongue, tightness in throat or hoarse voice
- Wheezing, persistent coughing or dizziness
Though any food has a potential to cause an allergic reaction, there are certain foods, which have been seen to cause allergic reactions in young children. They are as follows:
Milk especially cow’s milk - cow’s or buffalo’s milk is amongst the first foods introduced to babies. It is the most common cause of food allergy in babies. The signs and symptoms range from colic and reflux to constipation, diarrhoea and crying. Eggs can be the allergen, both in children and adults. The egg yolk is less allergic than egg white. Wheezing, cough, rash, stomach cramps are most common symptoms of allergy due to eggs.
Soya bean and other legumes including Bengal gram are common food allergens. Symptoms of a soy allergy include:
- Rash or hives (urticaria)
- Itching in the mouth
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Stuffy or runny nose
- And in rare cases anaphylaxis.
Chickpea or channa and besan can also cause hypersensitivity reactions ranging from rhinitis to anaphylaxis. Hence it is recommended to start with green gram pulse, washed or split as it is easiest to digest and least allergenic. Peanuts and other tree nuts can give allergic reactions resulting in pain in stomach and difficulty in breathing in your child.
Seafood including certain fish and shellfish can bring forth allergic reactions in your child like abdominal discomfort, itching of mouth, swelling of lips, tongues and etc. Moreover, some fruits including citrus, papaya and cherry may give allergy to some children.
It is important to note that only some children with allergy antibodies will develop symptoms following exposure to the allergen, hence confirmation of allergy by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist is required. These food items are source of essential nutrients. If your child is allergic to any of the above foods, it is crucial that you seek your paediatrician’s advice for a nutrient dense fortified food which meets the nutritional requirements of your growing child to avoid any nutrient deficiency.
Disclaimer: SHSH programme is for educational purposes only, in partnership with doctors. Consult a doctor for queries about your or your child's health.