Naturally, the unfortunate growing commonality of allergies in children has led to an influx of anxiety in parents. Many are ill informed as to what they can do to avoid them. This article will aim to help alleviate allergy-based concerns and shed a greater light on what you can do to distinguish and aid the presence of allergies. Allergies tend to run in families, and babies who suffer from eczema are particularly at risk. The more severe eczema and the earlier the onset, the more likely it is that baby will have a food allergy.
I recommend that any parent who is concerned about food allergies or intolerances should book a one-to-one consultation with a BANT Registered Nutritional Therapist. If you feel that your child is at particular risk of a severe, immediate reaction (e.g. peanut allergy) then you should consult your GP straight away.
The following foods are considered to be more likely than most to cause a reaction. If you have a history of food allergies, or if asthma, eczema or hay fever run in your family, then you may prefer to avoid introducing the following foods until your baby is twelve months old. The later these foods are introduced, the less likely it is that your child will have a reaction.
Foods That Are More Likely To Cause A Reaction
- Foods that contain gluten, especially wheat-based foods (bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits etc.) Keep these to a minimum for all babies until they are at least eight to nine months old.
- Dairy products. Milk protein allergies are the most common allergy in infants.
- Eggs. Albumin – a protein in egg white – often triggers a reaction in infants. However, egg yolks are a superfood for babies, so offer hard-boiled egg yolks from six months.
- Citrus fruits (including orange juice) and berries. Make sure that berries or grapes are cut in half to prevent a possible choking hazard.
- Honey. All babies should avoid honey until twelve months as there is a risk of botulism poisoning, which can be fatal.
Signs To Look Out For
Allergies may be immediate or they may be delayed. Delayed reactions are more difficult to spot, but may cause chronic symptoms such as eczema, reflux, colic, poor growth, diarrhoea, or even constipation. However, all of these symptoms commonly occur during childhood and an allergy is only one possible explanation. Trying to work out whether the underlying problem is due to a food allergy can be very difficult and is best done with support from your GP and a Nutritional Therapist. If you suspect an allergy/intolerance, contact your GP who may be able to refer you for testing, and book a consultation with a Nutritional Therapist who can track your baby’s food diary and identify the offending foods.
- A red and itchy rash particularly around the mouth, tongue or eyes
- Mild swelling, particularly of the lips, eyes and face
- A runny or blocked nose, sneezing and watering eyes
- Nausea and vomiting, tummy cramps and diarrhoea
- A scratchy or itchy mouth and throat
The following symptoms require urgent medical attention:
- Wheezing or chest tightness – similar to a severe asthma attack.
- Swelling of the tongue and throat or restricted airways. This can provoke heavy breathing, a cough or a change in voice.
- A sudden drop in blood pressure, called hypotension, leading to shock
- Dizziness, confusion, collapse
Good Practice For Coping With Allergies
- When offering a food for the first time, do so in the morning so that you can monitor baby for reactions.
- Offer foods for the first time when you are at home, rather than out and about.
- Introduce a wide array of fruits, vegetables, meat and legumes before introducing commonly allergenic foods, particularly gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts and shellfish.
- When introducing allergenic foods for the first time serve it 3-5 days before introducing anything else. That way you can monitor for a reaction and know what is likely to be causing it.