How will I know if my child has a food allergy?

For a parent, the realisation that your child might be suffering from a food allergy can be much dreaded. With food allergies in the young rising by 18% in the last ten years it is becoming more and more a reality for many families. Although not completely understood, it is thought that the increase might be due to what has been termed by the medical profession as the ‘hygiene hypothesis.’ The theory is that because children are exposed to fewer and fewer germs and increasingly sanitized surroundings, their immune systems are mistakenly identifying different foods as a potential threat to the body and are initiating an allergic response.

There are different signs to watch out for when trying to ascertain whether or not your child is allergic to something they are eating. In an allergic response due to food there is often a rash or redness with tingling in and around the mouth area, possibly distressed breathing and potentially a swollen throat.

Initially, try and be aware of when reactions take place. What was your child eating or drinking? What were the symptoms? How long did they last? Make a chart and track the relationship between foods and reactions. Can you identify the offending food? If it’s not an obvious choice, try eliminating things from the child’s diet that you think might be playing a role in the onset of symptoms.  Take your findings and concerns to your child’s GP and try to work out a strategy to minimise the exposure to the allergen that is causing all of the trouble.

Most children will grow out of the majority of their food allergies. The most common allergies involving milk and eggs are usually resolved by the age of twelve to fifteen. Peanuts and seafood allergies are less likely to go away and tend to pose a lifelong allergy risk.