Rarely does a parent anticipate having a baby with allergies. Having initial suspicions or getting that first diagnosis can create a lot of concern and questions. There is a lot of information out there – some better than others. And a few things may surprise you.
Should You Delay The Introduction Of Trigger Foods?
There are eight foods responsible for 90 percent of food allergies: wheat, milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and soy. For a long time, it was believed that withholding these foods from babies could avoid creating any kind of allergy, but this is not true.
“People who wait to introduce food allergens to their kids may miss a window of opportunity,” says Dr. Janice Joneja, researcher, educator, author, and a clinical counselor. “If young children don’t get exposed to low dose food allergens, their GI system can mature to the point where their body may not tolerate it.”
Not All Reactions To Foods Mean Food Allergies
Food intolerance is another possible reaction to food. Allergies engage an immune response; intolerance is either a metabolic, pharmacologic or undefined reaction. For instance, a milk allergy is different than being lactose intolerant.
As many as 30 percent of people think they have food allergies when the reality is more like 5 percent of children and 8 percent of adults. It’s easy to confuse the two reactions, but they are quite different.
Most Kids Outgrow Food Allergies
“Ninety percent of children outgrow food allergies by the age of 7,” explained Joneja. “Sometimes parents see tolerance of food allergens as early as 2 years of age.”
Allergies to peanuts and tree nuts tend to be persistent. Talk to your pediatrician about when and how to reintroduce allergenic foods.
Skin Prick Tests Alone Cannot Detect A Food Allergy
Instead of relying on a single test, use medical history, blood tests, food elimination diets, and oral food challenges to determine a true food allergy. Talk to your pediatrician about each of these tests and how to administer them.
Older Children Get Food Allergies Too
Peanut, tree nut, and seafood allergies are more common among teenagers and adults. Occasionally you will see a food allergy triggered by exercise, alcohol consumption or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory use. So while you may think you’re safe, continue to watch for reactions to the foods your kids eat.