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Common food allergies in children and their treatments

Your baby had just had his meals and a few hours later he is afflicted by a runny nose and sneezing. Diarrhea, vomiting or skin rashes could follow this. Check out this article to know more on food allergies in children and the available treatments.

Food allergies are most common in infants and young children. Egg, milk, groundnut, oil and wheat are the most common culprits. Most food allergies are outgrown by the age the three, perhaps because of a maturing immune system. Fish, meat, nuts mustard, soybean, celery are some of the common associated with allergies. Milk is the main source of energy in children, avoiding milk in the case of lactose intolerance is a daunting task for parents. Wheat is a stable diet of many Indian families. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, ray and oats. In celiac disease or gluten intolerance, intake of gluten diet can destroy the small intestine's ability to absorb nutrients from the food. Peanut allergy in children is one of the most prevalent and serious food allergies. Only well trained doctors could differentiate between food allergies and common childhood aliment.

Food allergy or food intolerance

In allergies, the body's reaction is sudden and more pronounced. The reaction is usually delayed and subtler in the case of intolerance. In allergies, a foreign body called allergen triggers an immune system response producing antibodies called immunoglobulin. These in turn cause release of organic nitrogenous chemical called histamine, which lead to multiple allergic symptoms. The immune system is not involved in food intolerance. Intolerance or food sensitivity could be due to a variety of reasons like enzyme deficiency. In lactose intolerance the body cells lack an enzyme called lactase and therefore, the body is unable to digest milk sugar (lactose). Another reason could be a chemical such as caffeine. One person may feel jittery with just one cup of coffee, while another may have several cups with no symptoms whatsoever. If you suspect your child has some allergy or intolerance, visit allergy specialist immediately.

Care and treatments

  • Elimination of the causative food : In allergic reaction, if a food is identified positively, it should be eliminated from the diet. The symptoms of the allergy will slowly subside and not recur. If the food is an uncommon one, example shellfish, it can be avoided easily, but it is difficult to avoid common foods like milk, eggs and wheat because they are also used widely in other preparations. For example milk gives us dairy products like cream, curd, paneer, whey. Wheat is uses to make chapattis, suji, biscuits, sweats, bread, noodles, soups, gravies etc. Eggs are used to prepare cakes, pudding, biscuits, dressings etc. it is very important to read the labels while buying packed or canned food from the market to weed out the allergens

  • Substitution by alternative foods : A child sensitive to cow's milk may not be sensitive to goat's milk. In such a case, goat's milk may be used as an alternative. Various preparations of soya bean milk and soya bean milk power are now available in the market. Being rich in protein they are good substitutes for children suffering from lactose intolerance. A child sensitive to wheat thrives well on a diet of rice, maize, oat or barley. Children sensitive to eggs can be given egg less cakes, puddings, biscuits, besan, chillas, etc

  • Change in the nature of allergen : Sometimes a patient may be sensitive to raw milk or lightly cooked eggs, but can tolerate well cooked eggs and boiled milk. This is due to the change in the nature and quality of protein in milk or egg, when they are heated. Some patients may only be sensitive to egg white and not egg yolk. In this case, the egg yolk may be separated from the egg white and given to the patient

  • Desensitization and age : Sometimes very small quantities of allergen may be given by mouth or injected repeatedly to desensitize patients. This method has to be adopted only under close medical supervision. In some cases age plays a vital role in allergy treatment. Patients tend to outgrow their sensitivity to food allergens. Seventy to eighty percent children with milk intolerance will be able to tolerate milk by the age of four or five

General precautions

If there is a family history of food allergy, be very careful while introducing new foods in an infant's diet. Introduce only one food at a time watch its effect. Strict adherence to allergen free diet is a must at all time. Avoid allergic food items and the family doctor should be aware of the allergy. Eliminating a food from the child's diet can prove to be very challenging, especially if it is milk, or wheat, find alternative food s that appeal to your child and will make up for the missing nutrients. For example, if milk has to be eliminated, find other rich sources of calcium, protein and vitamin D. If the diet has to be free from wheat, find rich sources of B complex vitamins, iron and fibre.


Author: Juana02 Oct 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

Food allergies can be life-threatening and parents whose children suffer from allergies must be extra cautious. The risks are more today, especially with packaged foods so easily available in the market. It is important to read food labels, when you have a child with allergies, to ensure that you do not accidentally feed them foods that they are allergic to.

Anaphylactic shock can develop rapidly and cause swelling of the airway, making it difficult to breathe. This can prove to be fatal if medical assistance is not provided promptly. An epi-pen (syringe) that carries adrenaline must be administered, immediately. There have been instances where people suffered an allergic reaction and died before reaching the hospital.

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