Most parents are aware that food allergies have become a prominent topic at the pediatrician’s office and playground. The thought that food, which we provide to sustain our children’s bodies, could be harmful to our little ones is unsettling. Food Allergy Awareness Week is observed every May to increase awareness and educate caregivers on what to look for and how to proceed should they suspect their child is having a reaction. We invited Adrianne Kartholl, RDN, CD, to offer more information.
Food allergies are a common safety issue for many children and their families. A food allergy occurs when the immune system overacts to a certain food that has been consumed. This is caused by an antibody called Immunoglobin E (IgE), which causes the allergic reaction.
The most common food allergies are:
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts
If an individual consumes a food to which they have an allergy, symptoms will soon follow, typically after the second time of ingesting the food. Symptoms of a food allergy include hives, swelling of the skin, tongue or lips, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. If an individual has a serious allergic reaction, they might experience anaphylactic shock, which requires immediate emergency medical attention.
If symptoms occur after your child eats a particular food, consult your primary physician. If it is determined that your child has a food allergy, a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist can provide additional education and meal planning to assist in keeping your child safe.
Food safety is key! Make sure to carefully read food labels and watch for cross contamination of foods. If you’re attending a cookout or picnic with friends or family, bring a food item that is safe for your loved one.
Although food allergies change a normal diet, they are manageable through modifications. Some children who are diagnosed early in life can even grow out of their allergies eventually. If you are concerned that you, your child, or someone in your family may have a food allergy, consult with you primary care physician.