One of the last things in the world you want to deal with is a child with a plethora of allergies. Unfortunately, there probably isn’t much you can do about them. Even now, there is conflicting evidence as to the cause of food allergies specifically. There have been studies that have shown that if a mother ingests specific foods while pregnant the child is more likely to be allergic to them and there have been studies that have shown the reverse is true as well.
So, if you are worried about eating that peanut butter sandwich while pregnant because you don’t want your child to be allergic to peanuts- I say go for it. At this point, there have been studies that have shown both results- this means that the hypothesis and conclusion of the study is not repeatable and thus there is no correlation between eating peanuts and the child developing allergies. And the reverse is true as well, there is no conclusive evidence between eating peanuts and the child not developing an allergy. Remember- for science to be true it must be repeatable and peer reviewed.
If you or your partner has food allergies, this does not mean that your child will have the same allergies (or any at all). There has been no correlation between parent and child to show that they share common allergies. If you have allergies, your child is more likely to have them as well, but the cause of the allergy may not be shared.
Anyway, once your healthy baby is out of the womb and has progressed to the point where they are eating the solid foods, then you need to worry about the allergies.
I am sure all the parents out there have read the rule about food introduction- making certain that your baby is only introduced to one new food at a time and to wait three to five days between the introduction of a new food. This rule is all well and good, but there comes a point where it is impractical. When your child is only eating purees and finger foods, it is pretty easy. But what about the first time your child wants that sandwich that is in your hand? Think of all the ingredients in that bread or mayonnaise or cracker. Narrowing it down to a single item can be difficult.
For example, I am very allergic to palm trees- this means I am also allergic to Palm Oil. Walk down your grocery store isle and start looking at the ingredients in the food. How many of them contain palm oil? Probably 6 out of 10 items on a low end estimate. On a side note, I am also allergic to passion fruit. This is an allergy I discovered late in life. Apparently I am just not meant for the tropics, thus spoiling all my retirement dreams.
Usually, you aren’t going to have someone who is allergic to something like palm oil. But, soy bean oil could cause a problem. Soy is in the top 8 most likely allergies for a child/person to have. Usually, the oil doesn’t have any of the proteins that cause the allergy (the same is true for peanut oil)- butI am one to err on the side of caution.
The top 8 most likely food allergies are: Soy, Cow’s Milk, Eggs (the egg whites actually have most of the things that cause allergies), Peanuts, Tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc), Fish, Shellfish and Wheat. You can look up guidance on when to introduce your child to these foods- it is easy to find on the internet and it is constantly changing, so just do a quick search to find the current guidance and suggestions.
Now, let us break down the symptoms of an allergy:
- angry red splotches on the skin or other rash
- hives (horrific looking red bumps/splotches that itch like insanity itself crawled under your skin)
- flushed skin
- swollen lips, cheeks or tongue
- coughing or wheezing or other difficulty breathing
and the scariest thing of all:
- loss of consciousness
Most food allergies are minor, but they can get worse with each exposure to the food that caused it. If you see a rash, flush or red spots, you can probably just contact your pediatrician and see if you should be worried.
However, if you see facial swelling, your child has difficulty breathing or severe vomiting call 911 or get to an emergency room immediately. Food allergies are nothing to shrug off. They can be extremely serious.
If you find that your child has a food allergy you will probably be prescribed an Epi-Pen. Learn how to use it and make certain that it is always within the date of expiry (you generally need to replace them every 6 months). For some allergies, you may just be told to keep Benedryl around. Benedryl is magic and should be kept around anyway, but keep the children’s Benedryl around and familiarize yourself with the dosages so you don’t have to think about it too hard when the time comes to use it.
If you have a child with allergies go over to another person’s house, inform them about your child’s allergies or provide food for them. If the allergy is severe, provide the person watching your child with the Epi-Pen and Benedryl just in case along with any emergency information they need.
Food allergies suck for anyone who has them. But they are manageable if you are just aware of the food you are eating. Keep to fresh produce and foods rather than boxed or canned so you don’t have surprises. This is not only healthier, but will make dealing with allergies easier.