Food Allergies: Nothing to sneeze at

The method of introducing solids to babies involves a food allergy detection tool. That tool is the introduction of new foods one at a time, with a three day or greater wait before introducing another new food. This is the control mechanism that helps identify which foods are okay and which foods may be a problem. Be on the lookout for allergic responses. The most common allergic skin reaction to a food is red, itchy hives that arise suddenly and disappear quickly. Another skin reaction is a chronic itchy inflammation of the skin known as atopic dermatitis. Itchy, congested nose is a common respiratory tract allergic response. Eyes can react by becoming red, swollen and itchy. Persistant, chronic ear infections may be an indicator of a food allergy. That's because an allergy can cause congestion in the eustachian tubes, which connect the ears to the nose.

 

However, the most common symptoms overall are vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Unfortunately these symptoms are common indicators of food intolerances, especially lactose intolerance. Some of the natural acids in fruits may cause a rash around the mouth, but is not an allergy, and diarrhea may be caused by excess sugar in fruit juice, also a nonallergic response.

If you suspect a food allergy, keep a diary for several days of what your child eats and drinks and what reactions you observe . Take this account to your pediatrician to help him with his diagnosis. As you go about increasing the variety of foods in your baby's diet, do it with an eye out for those foods that are most apt to cause a problem. Food allergens are usually proteins. The protein in cow's milk, egg, peanut, fish, wheat and soy are the most common food allergens, although any food may cause an allergic reaction. An allergy to a particular food may indicate an allergy to an entire food family, known as cross-reactivity. For example, an allergy to peanuts may mean an allergy to the legume family (kidney beans, black-eyed peas, soy beans are some members). Fortunately, most children do not suffer from cross-reactivity and are allergic to only one or two foods. If you discover that your child suffers from multiple food allergies, you would be wise to engage the help of a pediatric dietitian to create a diet that eliminates the offending foods without causing nutrient deficiencies and still offering variety.

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