There are plenty of foods that kids don’t like. But if your child has food allergies, some can literally make them sick.
Food allergies happen when the body's immune system thinks something your child has eaten is harmful, so it responds with symptoms that can range from mild to severe or even life-threatening. About four out of 100 children have a food allergy.
The most common food allergies are:
Because the immune system doesn’t become sensitized to a food until after the first exposure, allergy symptoms usually don’t occur until the child has consumed that food several times. However, breastfeeding babies who are exceptionally sensitive may have allergic reactions to foods their mother eats.
Food allergy symptoms may start right after eating or may take up to an hour. The most common include:
Very young kids who cannot describe their symptoms may:
In severe cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can hinder breathing and may lead to shock. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment (see epinephrine below).
If you suspect your child may have a food allergy, call Mercy Kids for an evaluation. Our pediatricians and pediatric allergists specialize in managing all kinds of food allergies in babies and children, and can help determine which foods bother your child.
After a physical exam, we may recommend additional methods to identify “problem foods” such as:
Unfortunately, food allergies can’t be treated – but they can be managed to minimize or prevent reactions.
Children sometimes outgrow milk and egg allergies, but allergies to nuts and shellfish usually last a lifetime. Depending on your child’s allergies, your pediatrician may suggest re-testing for allergies when they are older.
In the meantime, we’ll help you and your child learn to manage the allergy and eat safely and enjoyably.