6 unsuspecting ingredients that can cause a child food allergy
Certain foods can trigger your child’s immune response and cause a child food allergy. Find out which common allergy-causing foods might give your child a bad reaction.
Your child’s immune system is designed to identify any threat and attack it. In some cases, the immune system might mistakenly identify substances in certain foods as a threat and create antibodies to fight it. This response by the body can cause a number of allergic reactions like skin rashes, indigestion and even respiratory problems like wheezing. Knowing the most common foods that can trigger food allergies is important as it can help you keep an eye out for any harmful reactions. It can also help you understand what foods to exclude from your baby’s Indian food chart. Here are six of the most common foods that can cause an allergic reaction in children.
Also read our blog on Is Honey Safe for Babies? The Not-So-Sweet Truth.
1. Cow’s Milk
Many children can develop hypersensitivity to cow’s milk. Even breastfed babies can have a bad reaction if cow’s milk is a part of their mother’s diet. In some cases, ingesting cow’s milk can lead to colic, eczema or vomiting. Sometimes, your baby might experience severe allergic reactions like hives (which look like angry red rashes) or have difficulty breathing.
If you notice your baby developing any of these reactions, consult your paediatrician immediately. Your doctor might suggest switching to soy-based milk, but there is a chance that your baby is allergic to soy as well. In such cases, your pediatrician will advise you to switch over to a special formula made of hydrolyzed proteins that will give your baby the nutrients they need.
Most babies grow out of their milk allergy once their immune system becomes stronger. Your doctor will advise child food allergy testing for your baby when they are older. Based on the results, you can cautiously introduce it back into their diet to help them reap the various health benefits of milk.
Some children can develop an allergic reaction to the white of an egg, the albumin. There are very rare cases of allergies to the yolk as well, but your doctor might advise you to stay away from it since it has come into contact with the albumin. Child food allergy symptoms, in the case of an egg allergy, are usually in the form of a red rash, stomach bloating or shortness of breath. If your child is allergic to egg, you should be careful not to feed them foods like cakes, custard or ice cream as they usually contain egg. Some vaccines like the influenza vaccine might have egg proteins, so let your doctor know before any shots.
While egg is an important source of protein for your child and one of the healthiest foods for baby weight gain, they can still get their recommended protein intake from other food sources. Foods such as milk, pulses and fish are an excellent source of protein and can give your child’s growing body the nutrition it needs.
3. Wheat or gluten
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley and is a very common cause of indisgestion in children and adults. It causes two kinds of allergic reactions. The first is just an intolerance to gluten. This can cause a child food allergy rash, diarrhea or wheezing. The second reaction to gluten is more dangerous and is called celiac disease. This condition damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents proper absorption of food. The symptoms of celiac disease are far more subtle and might be more difficult to spot.
Also read our blog on Most Common Foods That Cause Eczema in Children.
If you notice your child experiencing any signs of indigestion or discomfort after eating gluten products like chapati/roti, bread and cake, make sure you inform your paediatrician. They can refer you to an allergist and diagnose your child’s condition.
4. Peanuts and tree nuts
While peanut is a legume, other nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews and coconut grow on trees. Children who are allergic to peanuts can, in some cases, be allergic to tree nuts as well. A mild child food allergy rash immediately after eating nuts can be a sign of an allergy. Other symptoms to look out for include mild swelling or itchiness of the tongue, lips or the eyes, nausea and abdominal pain. In severe cases, there can be an anaphylactic reaction when the respiratory tract swells up, making it difficult to breathe. This requires immediate emergency treatment where epinephrine (adrenaline) is injected intravenously.
If your child is diagnosed with a nut allergy, you need to start monitoring their diet very carefully. While restricting nuts from your child’s meals is the first step, you will also need to start paying closer attention to ingredient labels. Nuts are a common ingredient in most packaged foods. In many cases, even if the packaged item doesn’t contain actual nuts, it might have been manufactured in a facility where it could have come into contact with them. This information is usually given in the packaging, so you can ensure your child doesn’t consume it.
5. Sesame or til
This little white seed is one of the most unsuspected causes of child allergies. It can cause shortness of breath, skin irritations, abdominal pain, vomiting and in some very serious cases, anaphylaxis. If you use sesame oil for cooking then you should switch over to a substitute like canola oil, groundnut oil or olive oil. When your child grows older and starts eating outside food, special care must be taken to make sure that they don’t have anything cooked in gingelly oil. Knowing the different names for sesame oil is important so that you recognize them in the list of ingredients.
Also read our blog on 7 Incredible Benefits of Ghee for Babies and How to Use It.
Seafood can be an excellent source of calcium for your baby but be cautious while introducing it into their diet. Children might be allergic to all fish or a specific type. Some children are not allergic to fish but they can be allergic to shellfish like crab or shrimp. In any case, it is best to be aware of the symptoms of seafood allergies.
If you suspect that your child is allergic to a certain food, you should consult with your paediatrician immediately. They will prescribe a course of treatment and precautions to take in case your child experiences a severe reaction. It is always a good idea to carry the prescribed anti-allergic medicine with you if your child is allergic. For children with severe reactions like breathing problems, your doctor will advise you to always keep an epinephrine auto-injector handy. If you need quick medical advice that you can trust for your child’s food allergies, download the mfine app and book an instant consultation with your city’s top pediatricians.