We see multiple children with food allergies on a daily basis! A number we did not used to see years ago. The reason behind the increase in food allergy all over the world is not known yet with many unproven theories. What we know is food allergies are extremely common in the world today. Parents should know the signs and symptoms. They should know what to do in case of food allergies. Parents should also discuss with a nutritionist to replace missing vitamins and minerals.
What is a food allergy?
An allergy to food is when the body reacts to food the same way it would react to a virus or bacteria, by fighting it with an immune response. The reason behind it is not known, with family history being a strong predictor. The response to the food allergen is often accompanied by other signs and symptoms that are often different for each child.
What are signs of food allergy?
Food allergy symptoms are many and complex. Some children have skin reactions, some children have gastrointestinal reactions, some have breathing reactions and some have many together.
Food allergies can often be distinguished into 2 groups: IgE and non-IgE reactions. It is important to understand the difference so you can treat treat it better.
What is the difference between IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated food allergies?
When we think of allergies, we often think of huge skin rashes. This is a typical immediate response of the skin as the child eats a food that causes this child an allergy. This allergy could be limited to the skin or extend to breathing problems and other reactions. This type of food allergy can be detected using an IgE blood test prescribed by your doctor.
However, we have recently discovered a different type of food allergy. An allergy that is not immediate, and does NOT cause skin reactions. The reaction to the allergen is often delayed 2-4 hours and may continue for a few days. The reaction is often either diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, or blood in the stool. This allergy is not easily detected and the parents may not find out about it. An IgE test would not discover this allergy which makes it even more difficult to be diagnosed. This type of allergy needs follow up between the parents, the doctor, and a nutritionist to remove the source of allergen and check for improvement of symptoms.
Some children have both allergies, and can make things even more complicated.
What should I do if if I suspect my baby has a food allergy?
You should check with your pediatrician. After the food allergy has been diagnosed, the allergen should be removed from the diet for a period of time. If the allergy has been diagnosed, the parents should have a careful discussion with a nutritionist to make sure the child receives the vitamins and minerals their body needs from alternative resources.
Will my baby’s allergy go away?
Some allergies go away during childhood, such as wheat, dairy, and egg. However, other allergies might persist for life such as peanuts or shellfish. Given that some allergies go away with time, parents can reintroduce the allergen in small amounts over time. However, reintroducing the allergen to the child’s diet should be under strict doctor approval and monitoring and depends on allergy severity.
Living with an allergy can be difficult, however nowadays there are many resources to help parents with food allergies. If you have a child with food allergy, our team can help you. Dr. Medhat Abu-Shaaban, is an American Board Certified Pediatrician and Allergy Expert, and our Nutritionist Mirna Sabbagh provides detailed and individualized nutrition counseling for patients with food allergies.