Food Allergy In Children

A food allergy occurs when the body reacts against harmless proteins in foods. A look at food allergies in pre-schoolers.

By Ashwin Dewan

Food Allergy In Children

Food allergies are common in children. They can vary from a mild reaction to a severe one. Foods that cause allergic reactions are known as allergens. If your toddler sneezes a lot, frequently develops a rash, gets a stomach ache after consuming certain foods – he may have allergies.

Signs and symptoms of food allergy:

Food allergy can vary from person to person. Children intolerant to certain foods exhibit different symptoms with a particular allergy. Let’s take a look at the common symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • A flushed face and itchy rash around the mouth that can spread across the whole body.
  • A runny or blocked nose.
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat.
  • Dizziness and loss of consciousness.
  • Stomachache, vomiting and diarrhoea.

If the food allergy affects several parts of the body, the situation can become life-threatening. This condition is known as anaphylaxis and requires medical attention.

Causes of food allergy:

Normally, any food can cause a food allergy but most food allergies are caused by the following food items.

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Nuts (walnuts, pistachios and cashews)
  • Salmon or tuna
  • Shellfish

Children outgrow many food allergies such as those to eggs and milk but certain allergies like peanuts, nuts, fish and shellfish tend not to go away easily. Allergies can also occur due to other foods such as meats, fruits and vegetables. Some food allergies are easy to spot because as soon as the pre-schooler consumes a food item, symptoms like an itchy rash around the mouth appear.

Tests to determine food allergy:

If you suspect your pre-schooler is having a food allergy, an urgent medical check-up, under the guidance of a health professional, is recommended.

How to avoid food allergy:

Immediate food allergies in children are easy to detect because they occur as soon as your child has consumed a certain type of food. If you think that your child has a food allergy, stop him or her from consuming more of the food and consult a doctor. It is very important to avoiding the food that causes the allergy . Some other ways to prevent food allergy are:

  1. While grocery shopping, parents should carefully read the labels for allergic ingredients. Ingredients known to trigger allergies are specified on the packaging.
  2. Search for substitutes to foods that cause allergies. 
  3. If your pre-schooler is allergic to milk or dairy products, make sure he gets his daily dose of calcium through yogurt or soy milk.
  4. It is a good idea to consult a paediatrician when choosing food items that you are not sure about. For example, baked food items like cakes, breads and biscuits can also cause allergies due to the presence of gluten.
  5. If you have employed a nanny, remember to inform her about the food to be avoided.

Note: Not all allergies are caused by food. Sometimes, furry animals may also lead to symptoms of allergies in pre-schoolers.

Food allergies can have a great impact on the lifestyle and functioning of a family. However, with proper guidance and information, it should not prove to be an obstacle in the way of children leading a healthy lifestyle.

To know more about managing food allergies in children, flip through this ClipBook.