An allergy to a certain food occurs when the body reacts against harmless proteins found in that food. This reaction usually occurs shortly after the food is eaten. These reactions can range from mild to severe.
Because there are many symptoms and illnesses that can be confused with food allergies, it is important for parents to know the differences.
When the body's immune system overreacts to certain foods, the following symptoms occur:
If multiple parts of the body are affected, the reaction can be severe or even life-threatening. This type of allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis and requires immediate medical attention.
Any food can trigger an allergic reaction, but the following foods tend to trigger the most allergies:
Cow's MILK is a potentially allergenic food, it should NOT be introduced before 12 months of age. Dairy products could be given in small amounts starting from 6 to 9 months of age, without displacing breast milk or infant formula.
Fortunately, these types of allergies are usually outgrown during early childhood. It is estimated that 80% to 90% of allergies to eggs, milk, wheat, and soy are gone by the time a child is five years old. Some allergies are more persistent. For example, one in five young children will outgrow an allergy to peanuts, while very few will outgrow tree nuts and shellfish. Your pediatrician or allergist will do follow-up tests for your child's allergies to see if he's outgrown them.
Studies to date have NOT shown that delaying the introduction of potentially allergenic foods during complementary feeding prevents allergy to them and earlier, on the contrary, could increase the risk of suffering from it.
Foods can be responsible for many illnesses that are sometimes confused with a food allergy.
The following are not food allergies:
Some food-related illnesses are known as food intolerances or sensitivities, rather than an allergy itself, because the immune system is not the cause of the problem. Lactose intolerance is an example of a food intolerance that is often mistaken for a food allergy. Lactose intolerance occurs when a person has difficulty digesting the sugar in milk, called lactose, causing stomach pain, bloating, and loose stools.
Sometimes reactions to chemicals added to foods such as dyes or preservatives are mistaken for food allergies. However, while some people can be very sensitive to certain food additives, they are rarely allergic to them.
Written By: Dr. Diana Jimenez, pediatrician specialized in child nutrition, lactation, and child development.
1 year ago