Is your child experiencing unexplained rashes, stomachaches, or difficulty breathing after meals? It could be due to food allergies, a condition that affects many children. Food allergies can be a source of anxiety for parents, but understanding the common triggers and management strategies can make a significant difference in your child’s well-being. In this blog, we’ll explore the world of food allergens in kids and provide guidance on how to manage them effectively.
Also check: Different Type Of Food Allergies In Kids
Why Do Kids Develop Food Allergies?
Food allergies occur when a child’s immune system reacts to certain proteins found in food as if they were harmful invaders. This hypersensitive response can lead to various symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. While the exact causes of food allergies are complex, here are some common factors:
- Genetics: Children with a family history of allergies are at a higher risk of developing them.
- Early Introduction of Allergenic Foods: Introducing potential allergens too early in a baby’s diet can increase the risk of allergies.
- Environmental Factors: Environmental factors such as pollution and diet may play a role in the development of food allergies.
- Leaky Gut Syndrome: Some researchers believe that a “leaky gut” can allow allergens to enter the bloodstream, triggering allergies.
Also check : Natural Remedies For Different Type Of Allergy
TYPES OF FOOD ALLERGIES COMMONLY FOUND in kids:
Culprit foods that cause different type of food allergies in kids are as follows:
- Tree nuts such as almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews
- Fish and shellfish
The most commonly occurring food allergy in kids is milk allergy. Children below 3 years of age are more allergic to milk than other age groups. The milk proteins i.e. casein and whey proteins present in milk cause milk allergy. If the children are allergic to cow’s milk, they may also have allergic reactions to milk from other animals like sheep, goats. However, milk allergy is not similar to lactose intolerance. Moreover, children are most likely to overcome milk allergy by the age of 16, which is not the same as lactose intolerance.
Also check, Which milk is good for kids?
Children develop allergic reactions to an egg when their immune system sensitizes the proteins in egg whites or yolks. Children with egg allergy are allergic to either egg white or yolk or sometimes both. Since the egg is used in the preparation of many foods such as bakery products, salad dressings, ice cream, care should be taken to eliminate these foods completely from the diet.
Also check, What are the other source of protein rich foods?
Peanut and tree nut allergy:
The peanut and tree nut allergy are always confusing. Peanut belongs to the legume family as that of soybeans, peas while tree nut do not. Kids allergic to peanuts may also be allergic to at least one of the tree nuts. Therefore, giving candies, cereals and, baked goods containing peanut and tree nuts to kids is not advisable.
Fish and shellfish allergy:
Fish and shellfish allergy are not as common as the other allergies in kids. A shellfish allergy is caused when body attacks proteins from the crustacean and mollusk families of fish, commonly known as shellfish. In addition, they can cause a serious and potentially fatal allergic reaction with symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
Wheat allergy is one of the type of food allergies which occurs as an allergic response to any of the proteins found in wheat. It affects mostly children but they usually outgrow this allergy by the time they reach ten years of age. It is known to be acquired from parents (i.e. if a parent is allergic to wheat, the child may also be allergic). Wheat allergy is different from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Soybean, a member of the legume family causes allergy in young children below 3 years of age. Soy allergies are triggered by a protein found in soybeans. However, almost 70% of the children overcome this allergy when they reach adulthood.
Management Strategies for Food Allergies in Kids
1. Allergen Identification:
Read Labels Thoroughly,Become adept at reading food labels to identify potential allergens. Manufacturers are required to list common allergens like milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish in their ingredient lists. Understand Hidden Allergens,Be aware of less obvious sources of allergens, such as cross-contamination in shared equipment or during food preparation. Look for advisory statements like “may contain traces of” or “processed in a facility that also handles.
Inform Caregivers,Ensure that everyone involved in your child’s care, including teachers, school nurses, babysitters, and family members, is aware of your child’s allergies. Emergency Contacts,Provide emergency contact information and instructions on how to administer epinephrine to those responsible for your child.
3. Emergency Action Plan:
Create a Comprehensive Plan, Develop a detailed emergency action plan in consultation with your child’s healthcare provider. This plan should outline steps to take in case of an allergic reaction, including when and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector.
Also check: 8 Effective Home Remedies For Dust Allergy
4. Safe Food Preparation:
If possible, establish allergen-free zones in your home, especially in the kitchen and dining areas.Teach your child and caregivers how to prevent cross-contamination by thoroughly cleaning surfaces, cookware, and utensils after contact with allergenic foods.Use separate utensils, cutting boards, and toaster if your child has allergies to avoid contact with allergens.
Educate your child about their allergies and the importance of avoiding allergenic foods. Teach them to recognize the early symptoms of an allergic reaction. School Awareness,Work with your child’s school to educate teachers and classmates about food allergies. Encourage a culture of understanding and inclusion.
6. Support Groups:
Connect with Others,Join local or online food allergy support groups. These communities can provide valuable information, advice, and emotional support for both parents and children. Sharing experiences with others who have faced similar challenges can be reassuring and helpful.
7. Consult an Allergist:
Schedule regular visits to a paediatric allergist to monitor your child’s condition and discuss any changes or concerns.Work with your allergist to develop a personalised food allergy management plan. This plan should include specific guidance on allergen avoidance and emergency response tailored to your child’s needs.
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