Food allergies are an abnormal reaction by the body’s defences to the ingestion of a particular type of food. Symptoms can vary greatly in type (itching, skin rashes, vomiting) and intensity.
The foods most likely to cause allergies differ from country to country. A few which are quite common in children are: cow’s milk protein, eggs, nuts (peanuts in particular), fish and shellfish. If you think your child has had an allergic reaction to food, consult a health professional for an assessment.
It is now well established that breastfeeding exclusively up to the age of at least 6 months protects baby against the risk of allergies.
The first signs of allergies are most often seen during food diversification. Introducing baby to new foods before the age of 4 months increases the risk of developing an allergy. But it has also been shown that delaying food diversification does not reduce this risk. During food diversification, it is best to introduce just one new food at a time in order to spot any signs of an allergy. When baby begins to eat new foods, introduce just one of them at a time. When a food allergy has been diagnosed, ask your doctor for advice before completely excluding one or more foods.
In the case of intolerance to gluten (a protein present in wheat, rye, oats and barley), the doctor will draw up a gluten-free diet with an emphasis on other cereals such as corn and rice. Follow their instructions very carefully.
Labelling now clearly identifies processed or industrial products, making things a little easier for mums who have to deal with a child’s allergy.