You may be asking yourself, “Could my baby have a food allergy” or “What happens, if my baby has an allergic reaction to food”, which are very common questions that every parent will ponder, if their child exhibits any type of abnormal symptom.
Introducing your baby to solid foods can be quite risky and that is why it is important to only introduce them to one type of food at a time. This way you will have more control over what your baby eats, while being able to monitor his reactions to each food, so if he begins to exhibit an allergic reaction, you will be able to immediately omit the food from his diet.
Baby Food Allergies
In 2011, it was determined that nearly 4.6% of children under the age of 18 years old has at least one food allergy, which is a huge increase from the 3.5% in the year 2000 (CDC). Many individuals may not understand the mechanics of the immune system, which can be very confusing for most. What causes an allergic reaction to food? Well, it is fairly basic, since it is caused from an abnormal immune response.
Once your baby eats a specific type of food, the immune cells will determine that it is an invader and immediately launch a immune response. The Helper B cells will produce an antibody (leukocytes), which will attach to the invader and the Eater cells will eat them. The memory cells will store the information, just in case the invader ever appears again, so it can activate the immune system, in a much more efficient manner.
It can potentially take up to 7-10 days to produce the first batch of antibodies, but the next time the immune system will be armed, by producing the antibodies much quicker.
Baby Food Allergy
Once the memory cells stores this information and your baby consumes the food again, an immediate release of histamine, which is a chemical that is produced by Mast cells. The histamine will cause the blood vessels to dilate and in turn will cause your child to exhibit all the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Most allergies are not life threatening, but anaphylactic shock can sometimes occur. This life threatening condition is always linked to an antigen that the body is very sensitized to, which will cause a very rapid allergic reaction involving several parts of the body.
Common Baby Food Allergies
Most allergic reactions will occur within a few minutes and up to two hours after eating. It truly does not matter, if the baby has consumed the food before, without issue, because they can develop a reaction to a specific food later on. This type of allergic reaction make be linked to heredity, which means it was handed down from the mother to the baby.
- Peanuts and tree nuts (almonds, walnuts)
- Fish (tuna)
- Shellfish (lobster)
- Milk or other dairy products
Baby Food Allergy Symptoms
It is crucial to note that every baby will exhibit different symptoms of allergies, so keep this in mind, when trying to determine what the symptoms are related to.
- Generalized hives
- Eczema (patches of dry, scaly skin)
- Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
- Coughing with or without wheezing
- Swelling of the face, tongue, throat, and lip
- Scarlet red, flushing skin
It is crucial for your baby’s vitality that you seek emergency assistance, if your baby begins to experience dyspnea, swelling of the throat or face, and generalized flushed skin, because this could be a sign of anaphylactic shock.
Baby Allergy Rash
If your child has severe allergies, you should consider requesting a prescription from your pediatrician for an epinephrine auto-injector, which looks like a pen and can save your child’s life. Always make sure to alert your child’s teachers, counselors, day care workers, and other family members about the allergies, so they will not add these foods to his diet.
Outgrowing Food Allergies
Most children appear to outgrow their food allergies, but this is not always the case. By the time they enter kindergarten or first grade, they will most likely outgrow milk and egg allergies. In several different studies, results have shown that nearly 20% of children will outgrow peanut allergies, while 50% of children will outgrow milk and egg allergies.
What to do if my child has food allergies?
Omit the foods from the daily diet and make an appointment with an ENT specialist. There are several allergy tests that have proven to be very effective in detecting food and environmental allergies. RAST (radioallergosorbent test) is a serum allergy test, which is very effective, but not so much as the allergy skin prick or patch test.
The patch test may be better for small children, since it does not cause any type of pain. Several allergens are taped to the skin for up to 48 hours at which time the allergist will check the area