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most common allergies in kidsAbout four in 100 children have some sort of food allergy. An allergy is when the body overacts to a substance that’s not really a threat.

Allergic reactions can vary in intensity and duration. Some children have mild flare-ups that only last a few minutes. Other children can have life-threatening symptoms, like diarrhea and swelling of the throat.

Typically, allergies appear with these symptoms.

  • Hives (itchy, red bumps on the skin)
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Swelling of the face, legs or arms
  • Itchy skin
  • Coughing
  • Pain in the belly
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Red rash around the mouth
  • Diarrhea

Skin reactions are by far the most common symptom of allergies, so look for this sign first so you can prevent a more serious reaction.

What foods can a person be allergic too?

A child can be allergic to any food. There are cases of people with allergies to even the most common, mundane substances. You can also be allergic to things you don’t eat, like certain plants and chemicals in every day products. (Even if you aren’t officially allergic to some of the toxic chemicals in our clothing, furniture, and health care products, you can still be sensitive.)

However, certain foods are more likely to cause an allergic reaction than others. Here is a list of the most common offenders.

  1. Cow's milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Soy
  5. Wheat
  6. Nuts from trees (almonds, walnuts and cashews)
  7. Fish
  8. Shellfish (lobster, shrimp and crab)

How does one treat an allergy?

The best thing you can do when you or your child is allergic to something is to avoid it. Mind the food labels carefully to make sure manufactures haven’t snuck in your allergen in a weird way. (For example, you’ll find peanut oil in a lot of foods where you wouldn’t expect.)

When you begin introducing solid foods to your child, introduce one at a time with at least a day’s time in between. This will give you opportunity to gauge if the food you served causes a reaction without other variables.

It’s a good idea to see an allergist to confirm the allergy through one of their skin-prick tests, just in case you’re wrong and actually allergic to something else. The allergist can also tell you the proper way to treat the allergy, whether it’s simple avoidance or a medication or inhaler.

If your child has a serious allergy to something common (like eggs or milk), speak with a dietician who can offer recipes and methods of feeding your child nutritiously without endangering their health.

Can children outgrow an allergy?

In some cases, yes. Many children outgrow their allergies to milk, soy, wheat and eggs, but they probably won’t outgrow an allergy to nuts, fish and shellfish. If the usual reaction isn’t serious, you can test your child every few years by giving them a small bit of the food in question and looking for a reaction. If the reaction can be serious, don’t test it yourself; see an allergist.

Can we prevent allergies?

The jury is still out on this issue. Some people believe that exposing your child early to trigger foods is best, while others believe you should wait as long as possible to serve the offenders.

This is what the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks:

  • Some people claim that waiting longer to serve solid foods in favor of breastmilk or formula will prevent allergies, but there’s no medical data to support this. Doctors still recommend solid foods at four to six months.
  • It appears that probiotics help prevent allergies, but there isn’t substantial evidence.
  • Avoiding foods during your pregnancy doesn’t seem to make a difference.
  • There is some evidence that breastfeeding can prevent or delay allergies, but there isn’t a lot of science here. There’s also speculation that non-cow’s milk formulas help prevent the appearance of allergies.
  • If you’re ever unsure, always ask your doctor.

Do your children have any allergies? Tell us your story in the comments.

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