Food allergies affect about 1 in 20 children under the age of four, but fortunately most grow out of them
Food allergy generally begins in childhood and can trigger a wide range of symptoms from vomiting, persistent diarrhoea, abdominal pain, eczema, asthma, skin rashes and vomiting. With so many symptoms that could have other causes it is often hard to be sure that food is to blame or to find out which food. Reactions may occur immediately after eating a specific food or may be delayed for hours or even days. If you are worried that your child might be allergic to a certain food you should seek expert medical advice.
Many children outgrow early allergies to food by the age of three to five years. However, there is no cure for some life-long allergies and the only way to remain healthy is to avoid the problem food altogether. A young baby’s immune system is not fully matured and babies can become ill very quickly, so never hesitate to call a doctor if you are worried. Many people blame food additives, but reactions to food additives are probably at least 100 times less common than reactions to natural foods such as milk or wheat.
Common allergens: The most common foods that carry a risk of allergic reaction in babies include:
* cows’ milk and dairy products
* wheat-based products
* fish and shellfish
* berry fruits
When weaning your baby, take care when introducing these foods and notice any adverse reactions.
Now that babies are weaned onto solid foods later (beween four and six months), the incidence of food allergy in young babies has become less common. However, it is still babies under the age of eighteen months who are most likely to develop an allergy. Let your child’s teacher know about your child’s allergy. School caterers should also be informed. With packed lunches ensure that your child understands that they shouldn’t swap sandwiches etc. with other children. —BBC