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Food Allergies and Kids: Six Common Questions

Boy eating peanut butter sandwich: food allergies

By Alejandra Okie

When my daughter was 14 months old she ate eggs for the first time. Within minutes she started having trouble breathing and showed other symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can cause death.

With 12 million people in the U.S. with food allergies and growing, it’s likely you also know someone who suffers from them.

Food allergies are more common among children (6 percent of young children have them). Even if your child doesn’t have food allergies, it’s possible that a student who sits nearby in the school cafeteria does.

Here are answers to six common questions about food allergies:

1. When does a food allergy happen?
Food allergies happen when the immune system that protects the body believes something the person ate is harmful. The body releases histamine to attack the food protein and the person develops symptoms of an allergic reaction.

2. What are the symptoms of food allergies?
Early signs of a food allergy:

  • eczema/dry patches of skin
  • hives
  • wheezing 
  • mucus in stool
  • diarrhea and/or vomiting when giving a baby formula or a new food

Other symptoms:

  • tingling sensation in the mouth
  • swelling of the tongue or throat 
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting
  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea
  • drop in blood pressure
  • loss of consciousness

3. What are the most common food allergens?
Eight foods cause 90 percent of all reactions: milk (dairy), eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. Allergies to peanuts are becoming more common and can be life threatening. Some schools are banning peanut and tree nut products.

4. How are food allergies diagnosed?
An allergy doctor, or allergist, can do a skin prick test or a blood test. Keep in mind that these tests do not always show that the person will have an allergic reaction.

5. What safety measures can be taken?

  • There is no cure for food allergies. The only way to avoid a reaction is to not eat the allergy-causing food. Eating even a tiny amount of the food can cause a severe reaction or death. 
  • If you are introducing new foods to your baby, it’s best to give him one new food at a time at home and wait three to five days before trying another new food so you can look out for allergy symptoms.
  • Parents of children with food allergies should read all ingredient labels carefully and prepare safe foods at home.
  • Children with food allergies should carry an epinephrine injection in case of a severe reaction.

6. How can I help kids with food allergies?

  • Ask your child whether he or she has a classmate with a food allergy and what food they can’t eat.
  • Ask your child to wash her hands after eating so her schoolmate doesn’t come in contact with food that may cause a reaction.
  • Don’t send food to school that contains peanuts if your child knows a student who is allergic to them. Some people can have a reaction by just inhaling tiny peanut pieces in the air. 
  • Do not offer food to young children without asking their parents.
  • Talk with the principal about making your child’s school safer for students with food allergies.

Article courtesy of La Buena Vida

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Food allergies are more common. Most of time food agency standard shows that around 6 to 8% children have a food allergy. I have found so many interesting in your blog. Thanks for sharing with us.