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Kids and Food Allergies

Kids and Food Allergies

Identifying and Avoiding Food Allergy Triggers

A version of this article appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of HealthLink Magazine.

According to a 2018 study, approximately 8 percent of children in the United States have been diagnosed with food allergies. The most common triggers are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts and pecans), cow’s milk, eggs, fish (including tuna or salmon), shellfish, wheat, and soy.

It’s important to know the difference between food allergies and intolerance. For example, a child may feel bloated after drinking milk, but that could indicate lactose intolerance.

An allergic reaction is an immune system response triggered by food proteins that can result in symptoms such as hives and rashes; swelling of the lips, face or tongue; abdominal pain, vomiting and cramping; or wheezing.

For some people, food allergy can even cause a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis that requires immediate medical attention; signs include difficulty breathing, a swollen throat, rapid pulse, drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. Call 911 if these symptoms occur.

Parents should help their children steer clear of foods that trigger a reaction. Be sure to notify your child’s caregivers, school and any restaurant servers about his or her allergy (you can easily communicate foods to avoid with a customizable “chef card,” available at www.foodallergy.org). Before your child goes to a friend’s house, make sure the parents know which foods may trigger an allergic reaction.

Many children outgrow their allergies, with an estimated 80 to 90 percent of egg, milk, wheat, and soy allergies disappearing by age 5. Kids are less likely to outgrow peanut, nut or seafood allergies. Work closely with your pediatrician or allergist to determine the best way to manage your child’s allergies.

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