About 5% of children have true reactions to foods. The foods responsible for 95% of allergies are peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts. Chocolate, strawberries, corn, and tomatoes are less common allergens.
How does a food allergy look?
The most common type of reaction is that which affects the skin causing eczema or dry and irritated skin. It is especially common to see eczema in the first year of life related to food allergies, specifically cow’s milk, soy, wheat, and egg. The good news is most children outgrow these allergies by the age of 2 or 3 years. Food allergies affecting the gastrointestinal tract might manifest as vomiting or diarrhea. Rarely, a child may have an allergic reaction that affects the mouth and throat that causes swelling and difficulty breathing. If your child has this type of reaction, it is important that they have an injectable dose of epinephrine, an EpiPen or EpiPen Jr., with them at all times in case the offending food is accidentally eaten. This type of allergic reaction is rarely outgrown and usually lasts for life.
How do you deal with food allergies in the first year of life?
Allergens may be present in formula and breast milk. Therefore, health care providers may recommend that you switch formulas or avoid certain foods, such as dairy or egg, while you are breastfeeding. This sounds simple, but can be confusing when trying to determine what foods contain these “forbidden” ingredients. The first step in preventing allergic reactions in your child is learning how to read labels. The following information will guide you when trying to select milk-free, egg-free, peanut-free, wheat-free, or soy- free foods. There are many synonyms for the various foods and understanding what means what is critical.
- Milk protein allergy vs. lactose intolerance: Most children with “allergies” to milk in the first year are allergic to milk protein. Sensitivity to milk sugar, the so-called lactose intolerance, rarely presents itself in the first year of life. Common in African Americans and Jews, it represents a drop in the enzyme, lactase, which is responsible for digesting or breaking up milk sugar. There are artificial enzymes called lactase (marketed under the Lactaid brand name and others) that can help with lactose intolerance. However, the only solution to a milk protein allergy is avoiding dairy products, even in small amounts.
- Words to avoid in a milk free diet: Artificial butter flavor, Butter, Butter fat, Butter oil, Buttermilk, Casein (casein hydrolysate), Caseinates (in all forms), Cheese, Cream, Cottage Cheese, Curds, Custard, Ghee, Half&Half, Lactalbumin, Lactalbumin phosphate, Lactoglobulin, Lactulose, Milk, Nougat, Pudding, Rennet casein, Sour cream, Whey, Yogurt.
- Foods that may have milk protein: Caramel candies, Chocolate, High protein flour, Lactic Acid, Starter Culture, Lactose, Luncheon Meat, hotdogs, sausages
- Words to avoid in an egg free diet: Albumin, Egg (dried, powdered, solids, white, yolk,), Eggnog, Globulin, Livetin, Lysosome, Mayonnaise, Meringue, Ovalbumin, Ovomucin, Ovomucoid, Ovovitellin
- Foods that may have egg protein: Lecithin, Macaroni, Marzipan, Marshmallows, Nougat, Pasta
- Words to avoid in a peanut free diet: Artificial nuts, Beer nuts, Cold pressed, expelled, or extruded peanut oil, Ground nuts, Mandelonas, Mixed nuts, Monkey nuts, Nu-Nuts flavored nuts, Nut pieces, Peanut butter, Peanut Flour
- May have peanut protein: African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes, Baked good (pastries, cookies, etc.), Candy, Chili, Egg rolls, Enchilada sauce, Marzipan, Nougat, Sunflower seeds *Most allergic individuals can safely eat peanut oil (not cold pressed, expelled, or extruded peanut oil). Arachis oil is peanut oil.
- Words to avoid in a wheat free diet: Bran, Bread crumbs, Bulgur, Cereal extract, Couscous, Cracker Meal, Durum, Farina, Flour (all purpose, cake, durum, enriched, graham, high gluten, high protein, pastry, sort wheat, whole wheat), Gluten, Kamut, Matsoh, matzoh meal (also spelled matzo), Pasta, Eitan, Semolina, Spelt, Vital gluten, Wheat (bran, germ, gluten malt, starch), Whole wheat berries.
- Foods that may have wheat protein: Hydrolyzed protein, Soy sauce, Starch (gelatinized starch, modified starch, modified food starch, vegetable starch), Surimi, Vegetable gum
- Words to avoid in a soy free diet: Edamame beans, Hydrolyzed soy protein, Miso, Shoyu Sauce, Soy (soy albumin, soy fiber, soy flour, soy grits, soy milk, soy nuts, soy sprouts), Soya, Soybean (curd, granules), Soy protein (concentrate, isolate), Soy sauce, Tamari, Tempeh, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Tofu.
- Foods that may have soy protein: Vegetable broth, vegetable gum, vegetable starch *Most studies indicate it is safe to eat soybean oil
You need calcium! If you or your child cannot take milk or any dairy products as a source of calcium, it is important that other sources of calcium are ingested. Some non-dairy sources of calcium include; boiled eggs, boiled or stewed beef, stewing steak, baked cod fillet, sardines canned in oil, baked beans, boiled courgettes, boiled cabbage, boiled okra, fried onions, boiled old potatoes, broccoli, watercress, apples, sultanas, whole meal bread, boiled white rice, You can also take calcium supplements in the form of Calcium vitamin tablets, Adora chocolate chewables, Viactiv Calcium Chews, Caltrate chews, or calcium-fortified products such as orange juice and bread.