Allergy to egg, milk, soy, wheat, peanut, and tree nuts represents 90% of all food allergies in children. Food allergies cause serious and even deadly reactions in kids. So it’s important to know how to feed a child with food allergies and to prevent reactions. All allergies are an immune system overreaction to a specific food protein. A child could be allergic to and of these foods, but these common 7 food allergens account for 90% of all reactions in kids:
7 Food allergies in kids to watch out for:
Allergy to cow’s milk is common in children. It affects about 2.5 percent of all infants. These children tend to also react to other kinds of milk, such as goat and sheep milk. The allergy is usually due to one or both major milk proteins, casein, and whey. Sugar in milk, lactose, does not cause allergy, but can cause food intolerance.
Milk allergies almost always begin in the first year of life, soon after cow’s milk or cow’s-milk-based formula is introduced to a child’s diet. Between 2 and 7 percent of infants under one year old suffer from cow’s milk allergy, making it the most common food allergy of childhood. Milk allergy is easy to explain – after all, humans are the only animals that drink cow’s milk. Think about it – there is no other animal in the world that drinks milk asides from their mothers.
While 85 percent of children will outgrow milk allergy by age 5, being allergic to milk is a risk factor for developing other food allergies, as well as nasal allergies. Up to 10 percent of cow’s milk allergic children will be allergic to beef. Kids who have lactose intolerance will also be allergic to milk products such as butter, curd, cheese, chocolates and so on. Soy milk, almond milk, etc could be good alternatives to milk, but do check with your pediatrician if you can give them to your child.
Egg allergy estimatedly affects approximately 1.5% of young children. But it’s also a food allergy that is one of the most likely to be outgrown over time. The whites, in particular, cause reactions. More children than adults have an allergy to eggs, and children with atopic dermatitis (dry, scaly, itchy skin) have an increased risk of an allergic response to eggs.
Some food products contain egg as a hidden ingredient – like Caesar Salad Dressing. Many children’s vaccines contain egg protein and can cause an allergic reaction. The yearly flu vaccine also contains egg protein. Please discuss this with your doctor before accepting any and all vaccines. You may need to remind him or her at each visit.
Wheat allergy is primarily common in children and the child might outgrow this before reaching adulthood. It is sometimes confused with celiac disease, which is a digestive disorder that creates an adverse reaction to gluten. Individuals with celiac disease must avoid gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats.
People who are allergic to wheat have an IgE-mediated response to wheat protein and may tolerate other grains. Symptoms of a wheat allergy reaction can range from mild to severe. The wheat allergy can present a challenge for the diet as well as for baking because wheat is the nation’s predominant grain product. Wheat has been found in some brands of ice cream, marinara sauce, play dough, and even potato chips – so read ingredients carefully.
Someone on a wheat-restricted diet can eat a wide variety of foods, but the grain source must be something other than wheat. In planning a wheat-free diet, look for alternate grains such as amaranth, barley, corn, oat, quinoa, rice, rye, and tapioca.
Soybeans are a major part of processed food products. Avoiding products made with soybeans can be difficult. They alone are not a major food in the diet but, because they’re in so many products, eliminating all those foods can result in an unbalanced diet. Consult with a dietician to help you figure out what foods your child must avoid.
Peanuts are another food that is contributing to increased allergies. They can trigger a severe reaction in children. The severity of a reaction depends on how sensitive an individual is and the quantity consumed. Peanut allergy can be associated with life-threatening allergic reactions, particularly in children with asthma. And it is not just raw or roasted peanuts that can trigger reactions, but also cookies, salad dressings and cuisines such as Asian and Mexican that can cause allergic reactions.
They’re in lots of products, including baked goods and sauces. Always check the food label. Packages must say if they have peanuts. Peanut allergies are lifelong so you need to be extra careful. Accidental exposure to peanut-containing foods is a common problem, so it is important for peanut-allergic children to follow a strict peanut-free diet, wear a medical alert bracelet and always have injectable epinephrine available.
6. Other Nuts
Allergic reactions to tree nuts are among the leading causes of fatal and near-fatal reactions to foods. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, coconut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. These are not to be confused or grouped together with peanut, which is a legume, or seeds, such as sunflower or sesame. Like those with peanut allergies, most individuals who are diagnosed with an allergy to tree nuts tend to have a lifelong allergy.
Whilst fish allergy has been reported all over the world it tends to be more common in regions of high fish consumption. Mainly observed symptoms of allergic reactions to fish are skin and gastrointestinal reactions occurring shortly after eating. The most common fish culprits that cause allergies are salmon, tuna and halibut.
Common shellfish culprits are shrimp, crab, and lobster. Being allergic to one fish does not increase the risk for other fish to cause an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, fish allergies tend to be lifelong. Avoiding seafood restaurants is a good idea. Even if you order a non-seafood item there is such a high probability of cross-contact that you may still have an allergic reaction.
by Aarti Kapur Singh
Did you know any food allergies other than that mentioned in our post? If so, let us know in the comments below.