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Children’s Allergies FAQ

Common Questions to Allergies in Children Answered
Orig Published: 12/22/2006

Q. What are the foods children are most likely to be allergic to?
A. Foods most often involved in childhood food allergies include: cow’s milk (casein), soy foods, eggs, and peanuts-peanut butter, wheat, citrus fruits, and seafood (especially shellfish). Food allergies are more common in infants and toddlers than adults. Nearly 8 percent of children under the age of three have an allergy to one or more of the foods mentioned. Even the smallest amount of a food allergy can be fatal. Be very cautious when introducing new foods to your baby!

Q. Why are food allergies more common in infants and children than in adults?

A. Doctors don’t know for sure, but speculate that perhaps it is because a child’s immune system is not as fully developed as an adult’s; about 5-8 percent of children have food allergies, and among those, nearly three percent are considered fatal. Take any reaction to a food allergy, and contact your child’s doctor immediately.

Q. What are the symptoms I should watch for in my child to determine whether she has a food allergy or not?

A. Food allergies can cause a plethora of symptoms, and should all be taken seriously. The most common symptoms include: swelling of the lips, face, ears, throat and eyes, hives, coughing, a runny nose, and dark circles around the eyes. Consult with a doctor as soon as these symptoms appear.

Q. Can my child die from a reaction to these foods?

A. Yes, unfortunately, food reactions kill about 50 people in the Unites States each year. Once an allergy to a certain food is determined as life threatening, it is not unlikely for a doctor to recommend the patient carry a preloaded syringe of epinephrine with them at all times in order to reverse the symptoms of the allergy.

Q. Will cooking the foods that cause allergies in children help ward-off the allergy?

A. No, cooking these foods will not prevent serious allergic reactions in children. In fact, it may even do more harm than good because the allergens found in these Foods continue to form even through the cooking process.

Q. Can food allergies be easily diagnosed in children under 12 years of age?

A. Doctors diagnose food allergies at any age by asking detailed questions, and performing skin and blood tests to pinpoint the exact allergy.

Q. What is the treatment for food allergies?

A. Avoiding the culprit is the only successful treatment. Be sure that you know the exact ingredients in your child’s meal before ordering, and inform the waiter and cook of dangerous allergies before ordering. Also check the ingredients of canned or bottled food at the supermarket before giving them to your child to eat.

Q. I’ve heard that children under the age of two need the fat benefit in cow’s milk. Unfortunately, my child is allergic to cow’s milk. What should he drink in place of it?

A. If your child is allergic to milk, not just lactose intolerant- please try a soy milk or a rice milk as a replacement. Lactose or Lactaid still have the milk protein ‘casein‘ in it that people are allergic to.¬†Casein should not be confused with lactose. Most people who have difficulty digesting milk are lactose intolerant, meaning that they produce too little of the enzyme (lactase) that breaks down milk sugar (lactose) so bacteria flourish in their stomach to finish the job. Lactose intolerance is no laughing matter but it is not life threatening. A casein allergy can be just that- an allergy. It may manifest as breathing difficulty, hives and rashes, or serious pain in their tummies, leading to inability to get nourishment from food and dangerous weight loss or even death. Please take measures to find out whether your child is lactose intolerant or allergic to casein.

Q. How do I prevent my child from getting a food allergy?

A. Know his or her allergies, if any, know the ingredients going into meals, read labels carefully, inform teachers and other adults who may offer your child food what he or she is allergic to.

Q. I’ve heard of oral allergies, but aren’t quite sure what they are.

A. Oral allergies result in the touching of one’s mouth and lips after coming in contact with certain foods that cause hives in your child. Fruits and vegetables that are uncooked are more likely to cause this type of reaction.

Q. Will cooking the foods that cause oral allergies eliminate it?

A. Most likely cooking and boiling fruits and vegetables kills the germs that causes oral allergies. However, the allergens still lie in the steam that surfaces as a result of the cooking process. Be sure not to allow your child near the stove while you are cooking any known fatal foods.

Q. Is there a link between food allergies and other types of allergies?

A. Those with allergies to fruits and chestnuts have a good chance of being allergic to natural latex rubber as well, and should avoid coming into contact with latex rubber.

Q. How do I know if I’m suffering from a food allergy versus an allergic reaction?

A. A person suffering from a food allergy cannot digest the food or drink properly because s/he lacks the proper enzymes to digest that food. Reactions to food allergies include diarrhea and stomach cramping, depending on the amount of food or drink ingested. A food allergy, on the other hand, is an adverse reaction to the immune system, and carries with it many biological differences. The chemically induced food allergy causes symptoms associated with itchy, watery eyes, a scratchy throat, swollen eyes, throat and tongue, itchy ears, throat and mouth, swelling in various parts of the body, and hives on the face and throughout various parts of the body as well. A severe food allergy can lead to anaphylaxis, sometimes in a matter of seconds. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal. The seriousness of anaphylaxis is a result of the throat swelling to the point that air to the lungs is prohibited.

Q. How do I best avoid food allergies?

A. The best way to avoid allergies is to eat non-processed foods, or those sprayed with chemicals, such as organic foods. Avoid those foods that you know you are allergic to, as tempting as they may be, and seek medical treatment immediately if you think you are suffering from an anaphylaxis attack.