Allergies in children
14:53 (GMT+2), Thu, 23 August 2012
Surveys show that allergies are on the increase.
Here are a few guidlines to tell if your child may be allergic to a certain food
What to know about alergies in children:
• For babies with a family history of allergy, new foods can be introduced one at a time for two to three days, so that any adverse reactions can be traced to the ‘trigger’ food.
• The only accurate way to diagnose food allergies is to eliminate the suspected or most common allergens, wait for symptoms to cease, and after a period of about six weeks, reintroduce them one by one until the symptoms reappear. This type of diet should only be done under medical supervision, and with the help of a registered dietician.
• Sensitising is when you introduce a food to a child from an early age in order to avoid allergies. However, if you have a history of food allergies in the family, it’s advisable to avoid giving your child anything with peanuts in until he’s three years old.
• A food intolerance, sometimes called a false food allergy, is a condition where the body is temporarily incapable of digesting certain foods. It’s generally short-lived and is not the same as a true food allergy, which involves the immune system. However, it can induce the same symptoms, so if you suspect that your child is allergic to a common food like cow’s milk, consult your paediatrician before changing his milk formula.
• In the case of peanuts and peanut products, which can induce a severe allergic reaction like anaphylactic shock, which can be life threatening, it’s best to err on the side of caution. In families with a history of any kind of food allergy, it’s advisable to avoid all products containing peanuts until the child is three years old, and then seek medical advice before introducing peanut products into his diet.
• Cow’s milk protein allergy is the most commonly occurring allergy in children. An allergic reaction to infant formula or any dairy product can be instant, or can take a few weeks to show. Symptoms can include cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, a skin rash, or breathing difficulties. There are several alternatives to cow’s milk formulas on the market that you can use.