How to identify allergic reaction

My son is almost 5 months old and 16 lbs. He has started solids and greatly enjoys his cereal and vegetables. I make my own baby food and I have been very careful in introducing new foods to closely together in case of an allergic reaction.

My question is how can I identify an allergic reaction. Can they be subtle like a diaper rash? Is gassiness a sign of allergy?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Ellen,

A food allergy results from an adverse reaction to food that involves an antigen-antibody or antigen-cell interaction. This is in contrast to a food intolerance which does not involve the immune system and has some other physiologic response. A food allergy is only one of many causes for adverse reactions to food. Other reasons include such things as a lack of digestive enzymes, for example a lack of lactase will cause an inability to digest the sugar in milk, and toxins or harmful bacteria in food.

A true food allergy can really only be diagnosed by a medical professional. You will want to keep an eye out for any adverse reaction to a food. Symptoms that may indicate an allergy or other food sensitivity include excessive gas and bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rash, sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, and unusual crying (perhaps caused by cramping). If you notice these signs, you may want to keep a food intake/symptom diary for a few days. Take this to the doctor in order to help her make a diagnosis.

A diaper rash can be caused by any number of things and so would be a little hard to use as an indicator of a food sensitivity. However, is certainly can be caused by it. Any food intolerance symptoms can be subtle or severe and depends on many factors such as the amount of food the baby ate, how sensitive he is to the food and how tolerant he is of discomfort.

Thank you for writing.

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