All about allergies in children

Sometimes when a child eats foods they are especially sensitive or allergic to, they can sneeze. Other symptoms may include itchy eyes or a mild skin rash.

Surveys show that allergies are on the increase. If you’re worried your child may be allergic to a certain food, you may wish to consult the advice of a registered dietician.

Did you know that eggs, milk, and peanuts are among the most common causes of food allergies in children? Almost five percent of children under the age of five years have food allergies.

Do you want to know more about allergies in children? From trigger foods to food intolerance, we discuss this important topic. Read on!

Trigger foods

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.

Diagnosing food allergies

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.

What is sensitising?

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.

Food intolerance

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.

Peanuts & peanut products

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.

A word on cow’s milk

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.