Assessing Your Child's Risk Factors For Food Allergies
As you begin to introduce your baby to solid foods, there is always a concern for his tolerance in relation to each food group. Food intolerance can be detected at an early age and can be an indication that he may also be allergic to a specific food. A food allergy is more serious than intolerance. It's an immune system response that takes places after consuming a specific food type. Symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. Knowing if your child may be at risk for a food allergy can help you develop a safe and effective way to introduce foods.
It's important to stick to certain foods as your baby first starts out eating solids, including dairy products, beans and spinach. This allows you to pinpoint some of his favorites – but also to keep an eye out for gastrointestinal changes, as well as any signs of allergies. Food allergies affect up to 8 percent of children under the age of 3. Infants and toddlers can easily show signs of an allergy because their bodies have an immature digestive system. Signs to look for with a food allergy include:
- Itching or hives on the skin
- Swelling of lips or face
- Faintness or unsteadiness
Severe cases of a food allergy are life-threatening. If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:
- Rapid pulse
- Loss of consciousness
- Constriction or tightening of airways
- Swollen throat and tongue
Your baby's overall health history plays an important role in what foods he will be introduced to when he starts solids. If he has had an issue with some of the foods that mom was eating while breastfeeding, including shellfish, milk or nuts, it could be an indicator that he may be allergic to some of those foods. Avoid these things until he is much older and his digestive and immune system are more developed. With pediatrician approval, a slow introduction to these foods is recommended to avoid a possible severe allergic reaction.
Another risk factor for your baby developing food allergies is your own health history. If you or the other biological parent have had issues with food intolerance or allergies in the past, there is a chance that you could pass this on to your child. Both parents' health history should be taken into consideration when early foods are started with your baby.
Sometimes mild stomach discomfort or feelings of general malaise can be a precursor to a food allergy. This is referred to as food intolerance. An actual allergic reaction does not occur, but your child may not be able to tolerate certain foods or types of foods. These should be avoided at all costs, just to err on the side of caution.
A pediatrician like Alidina Laila MD is the best source of nutritional information regarding the health of your baby or child. Being aware of digestive issues allows you to be proactive in your child's care in order to prevent a health emergency.