The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FANN) recently referenced a CDC study revealing that one out of every 25 children has a food allergy. This is about a 20% increase between 1997 and 2007. KeepKidsHealthy.org reports that true food allergies affect 5-8% of younger children in the United States. Food allergies are a significant concern, especially for parents of young children.
The most common food allergens for small children are eggs, milk and peanuts. Other common allergens include seafood, wheat, and tree nuts. Reactions range from mild to dangerous. Symptoms can include hives, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and mouth pain. Dangerous reactions include anaphylaxis, difficulty breathing, swelling in the mouth and throat, decreased blood pressure, shock and even death.
Speak with your pediatrician about introducing new foods, and how to do so safely. If you think your child has a food allergy, consult your pediatrician immediately.
Your doctor might suggest you start a food diary – a log of everything your child eats and a description of symptoms that develop. The doctor will use this information, along with a physical exam, a blood test and possibly a skin prick test to make a diagnosis.
It is possible to outgrow some allergies, but consult your doctor for safe ways to test this. Allergies to nuts and seafood are often life-long.
Food allergies can make your child ill and miserable, but they can also be very dangerous. Consult your pediatrician to help diagnose, treat and create an eating plan to ensure your child eats safely and healthily.