What Causes Food Allergy in Children? - Check Symptoms & Treatment
Created by Ambili S Kartha Updated on Oct 17, 2020
First six months of their life, most of the babies fully depend on the breast milk for their sustenance. Even though introducing solid food is an exciting milestone, more often it comes with a lot of doubts and concerns. What worries the mothers most is the possibility of the food allergy reaction in their babies. And the worry is not without a reason at all. Around 8% of children under three years are estimated to contract a food allergy. Though lots of children outgrow most of the food allergy in due course, some allergies will stick on for a lifetime.
Sometimes food allergy runs in the family. In such instances, the baby poses a high risk of contracting it. It is not unusual for babies to react badly to something they ate. Gastrointestinal issues are common among the babies as their digestive system is not fully efficient yet. Therefore, if the baby develops a tummy ache or diarrhea after eating something it could most probably because of poor digestion rather than food allergy.
Therefore, understanding how allergies work is important for recognizing the early signs of food allergy in babies. It's equally important to know what to do if the baby exhibits an allergic reaction and ways to ease the annoying symptoms.
What Is Food Allergy In Babies?
Food allergy in babies happens when their immune system misinterprets and overreacts to normally harmless protein in a particular food as though it is an invader. The immune system of the baby produces antibodies against that particular protein (allergen) in the food. Whenever the baby eats the same food again, the antibodies release some chemicals into the blood to fight off the allergen. Histamine is one among them. These chemicals trigger allergic reactions that usually affect 4 areas - the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, skin, and the digestive system, thereby, bringing about bothersome symptoms.
What Causes Food Allergy In Toddlers?
As mentioned earlier, a family history of food allergy and other allergic conditions like asthma and eczema increases the chances of food allergy in the baby. If the parents have any of these issues the child can develop an allergy to certain food. The link between eczema and food allergy in a baby is very strong. Babies who contracted severe eczema before three months old can develop a food allergy. Therefore, we can say, the earlier the baby contract eczema and more severe it is, most likely the baby develops an allergy to certain food once solid food is introduced.
Is Food Allergy & Food Intolerance Same?
No. Even though confused with each other both food allergy and food intolerance are different. Food allergies involve the immune system and can some time turns to be life-threatening. On the other hand, food intolerance is nothing, but the baby has trouble digesting a food. Even though the severity of the signs of the food intolerance varies from mild to severe, it is definitely not a life-threatening. The most common intolerance among the babies is lactose intolerance, in which the baby is not able to digest lactose found in milk.
What Are The Conditions That Usually Misinterpret As A Food Allergy?
Here are a few instances that bring about food allergy like reaction:
- Some kind of medicines can bring about loose motion
- Food poisoning, ingesting spoiled food or undercooked food that is invaded by microbes can bring about profuse vomiting and diarrhoea
- Ingesting too much sugar can bring about diarrhea in babies
- Additives used in food like food colour and preservatives can bring about skin rashes or other reactions
In all these instances, even though the baby develops sensitivity, he or she is not ‘allergic' to the ingredients.
Which Foods Can Develop An Allergic Reaction In Babies?
There are more than 170 foods that are capable of triggering allergic reactions in babies. However, eight foods that bring about 9 out of 10 allergic reactions. Here is the list of 8 foods that trigger allergies in babies:
- Cow milk
- Nuts from trees (walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews)
- Fish (tuna, salmon, cod)
- Shellfish (shrimp, lobster)
How To Introduce These Foods To My Baby?
Even though these foods are capable of triggering allergic reactions, these are highly nutritious as well. Therefore, it is important to include these foods in baby's diet. Wondering how?
Now you know the food that can trigger the allergy in babies. Before introducing these foods, start with traditional food like vegetable and fruit purees. One the baby is used to it you can start trying the above-mentioned food. Always introduce these foods one by one to your baby rather than exposing the child to more than one food that could cause allergy. This way you can make sure if your baby is allergic to the food you introduced. Also, remember to give a gap of 4 to 5 days before introducing the next one on the list.
Experts suggest introducing highly allergenic foods such as nut products, eggs, and fish within the baby's first year will help to bring down the baby's risk of developing food allergies later in life.
However, cow's milk and honey should not be introduced before the baby turns one year.
What Are The Symptoms Of Food Allergy in Babies?
Signs usually appear within minutes to two hours after ingesting a specific food. The signs of food allergy in babies are:
- Itchy skin rashes
- Throat tightness
- Pale skin
- Loss of consciousness
What To Do If The Baby Exhibit Allergic Reactions?
Many parents get confused if their baby shows signs of an allergic reaction for the first time. Once the baby develops rash, hives, vomiting, or diarrhea within minutes or hours after eating a new food new food, call the doctor right away for advice. However, if the baby develops breathing difficulties take the baby to the hospital as it could be Anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that kicks in and get worse faster and may cause death. Check this: What Precautions if travelling with food-allergy
How To Treat Food Allergy In Babies?
Finding and avoiding the allergen that trigger allergy is the key. There are different tests that find out the allergen that triggers allergic reactions in the baby. Most often the allergen will be an ingredient rather than the whole food. Therefore, ensure you avoid allergens while selecting your baby's food. Discussion with the doctor will help you to get a clear plan what to do if the baby shows an allergic reaction. Mild allergic reactions like skin rashes, diarrhea, etc. can be treated with antihistamines. However, the severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis cannot be treated with antihistamines. In that case, the doctor asks you to keep injectable epinephrine with you at all times.
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| Mar 29, 2018
hi bhawna chugh .. my son z 2years old and he too having skin ellergy , doctor noticed it as hives . she did all tests including antibodies ,urine,kidneytests etc but she didn't find the reason for it we r consulting rainbow doctors hyd at present m using xyzal syrup daily 10ml for my son can u pls tell me how u recognised the cause of ellergy that it caused due to dairy products r nuts
| Mar 29, 2018
hi madhu krishna... when first tym I introduced her milk within seconds she got allergic reactions.. like hives swelling on lips nd all over the face... nd after that she can not able to take feed for approx 8 hours... that tym I was guessing that it's some allergic reactions but after consulting with doc it was confirmed that it's milk allergy.. than we had done blood test nd mainly skin prick test for other allergens also.. she is allergic to all nuts also except almonds... she is allergic to some vaccines also... so plz u take good care of him.. she has low immunity that's why she is suffering with allergic bronchitis also... for that I have to nibulize her regularly...
| May 19, 2018
my toddler is now 1. 8. she is still on breastfeed. weight is 10. 3 kg. birth weight was 2. 9. she hates eating solid or semi solids.. she likes to have rice n some spicy dishes to eat but that too 4 or five mouthfuls. after that she will try to vomit it out if I am for the next. I give her egg mixed with cow's milk daily. she hates that. she always try to vomit it out and sometimes she pukes. I give her ragi also .. she vomits it if I give her more than 5 or 6 spoons. what should I do?