How to prevent kids allergies to foods

Allergies & Anaphylaxis

Let’s discuss kids allergies and allergic reactions

Sometimes we wish we had more control over our body, especially how it reacts to what we eat and drink. It can be terrifying and overwhelming to watch a baby’s allergic reaction, particularly to foods that you are feeding. Study shows that as many as 5.6 million children under 18 years of age in the United States alone have a food allergy.

But this is where parents and responsible adults come in. The little ones around us must be properly cared for, including knowing what may cause allergic reactions and working to prevent such. In this article, you will learn the basics of every parent’s nightmare – food allergies – and how to prevent food allergies in children.

Author Dr Dina Kulik - Kids Health Books

What is a food allergic reaction?

Quite different from food sensitivity or intolerance, a food allergic reaction is when your immune system reacts strongly to the protein in a particular food you have eaten, which can be mild in some cases and life-threatening in others. Life-threatening reactions are called anaphylaxis.

The most common food allergens (foods that can cause allergies) include milk, nuts, eggs, fish, soy, wheat, and shellfish. The good news is that when your child gets an allergic reaction, there are noticeable food allergy symptoms that let you know something’s wrong. So let’s proceed to the common signs of allergic reactions – which every parent should know about.


Signs of Allergic Reaction

There are several signs of allergic reactions, from itching and sneezing to a swollen face and much more. You may become aware of your kids’ allergies if they are experiencing the following common signs of an allergic reaction:

1. Itching and sneezing.

2. Teary and itchy eyes, nose, and throat.

3. Redness of skin, rashes, and hives.

4. Vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea.

5. Swollen lips, tongue, or mouth.

6. Wheezing, tight chest, and troubled breathing.

That’s one rather terrifying list, and there’s even more. Wouldn’t you rather avoid the stress of allergies from the get-go and instead work towards your children never having to be overwhelmed by allergies?


Below are a few steps on how to prevent kids’ allergies to food.


1. Know your risk for food allergy

We know that children with first-degree relatives with food allergies are more likely to have food allergies themselves. This does not mean we should delay the introduction of allergenic foods, but rather, it is essential to be mindful of risk.


2. Introduce allergens early to prevent food allergies

It may seem counterintuitive, and it is different from the old-school teachings when we were growing us. Still, we know now that the early introduction of allergens DECREASES the risk of developing allergies. For example, kids that grew up in the 1980s often did not get exposed to peanut butter until age 1-2, which increased their risk of allergies to peanuts. Offering solid foods and allergenic foods by age six months is a significant step in preventing food allergies. That’s right; we may be able to prevent your child from developing food allergies, such as allergy to tree nuts, egg allergy, milk allergy, and other allergic reactions if they are started on solid foods early. Allergenic foods include tree nuts, peanut, eggs, fish, milk, and wheat. Please review your child’s risk and plan to introduce solids with your doctor.


Breastfeed if you can (and desire)

There is a decreased risk of developing a food allergy in babies who receive breast milk.


3. Autoinjectors for peanut allergy and other food allergies

If your child has a known allergy or is at high risk of allergies, consult with your child’s health care provider. A physician can prescribe an allergy kit that contains epinephrine for severe cases of allergic reactions like anaphylaxis. If your child has an autoinjector, ensure your child carries it with them at all times as an emergency backup plan.


How long does an allergic reaction last?

Some kids will react to a portion of food for mere minutes. For example, a baby allergic reaction can be hives that last only a few minutes and fade on their own. Other kids have persistent reactions intermittently for days how the immune system flairs are highly person and situation-specific and not very predictable. Your doctor can help direct your child’s care based on the symptoms your child is experiencing.

After all, is said and done, it won’t go a long way if you alone know about your kid’s allergies. Ensure that everyone around your kids knows about their food allergies too. A lot of effort and resources are being put into research concerning food allergies. Newer therapies called oral immunotherapy involve giving kids with known allergies small and steadily increasing doses of the allergen they are allergic too, to decrease the immune response and prevent anaphylaxis.

We hope this therapy will be more commonplace in the future. Hopefully, this sheds even more light on safer and more effective food allergy prevention and treatment measures in the near future. But, for now, we hope you follow the tips shared in this article to ensure your kids stay happy and healthy.


FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common food allergens?

The most common food allergens are peanut and tree nuts, milk, soy, egg, wheat, fish, and seafood.


Do kids outgrow food allergies?

Many young children do outgrow their food allergies. For example, peanut allergy is a common allergy that kids can outgrow.


Do kids with atopic dermatitis develop food allergies more commonly?

Kids with allergies are more likely to have atopic dermatitis; most children with eczema do not have food allergies or other allergies.

Stay Brave!


Dr Dina Kulik at DrDina Kids Health Blog

Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Written By: Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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