1 in 13 American children have food allergies, but what foods should we watch out for?
Cow’s milk is the most common, but milk from other sources can also cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms can be mild to severe and can start minutes to hours after drinking milk. Symptoms include wheezing, hives, vomiting and other digestive problems. A milk allergy is rarely life-threatening and most children will outgrow it by the age of three.
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Peanut allergies are the most common cause of anaphylaxis, a serious, life threatening reaction that results in swelling of the throat, constriction of the airways and a drop in blood pressure. Peanuts can also result in mild reactions like itching of the mouth and throat, hives, digestive problems or a runny nose. A mild reaction in the past to peanuts can evolve into a more serious reaction, so any symptom of allergy should prompt attention by a physician.
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These include nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and pistachio nuts. (Peanuts are a legume.) Like peanut allergies, tree nut allergies range from itching in the mouth to anaphylaxis. People who are allergic to one nut are often advised to avoid all nuts.
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Shrimp, crab and lobster cause the majority of shellfish allergies. More than 60% of people allergic to shellfish report their first reaction as an adult.
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It is important to distinguish a wheat allergy, from Celiac disease or gluten intolerance. An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system and can cause hives, itching, swelling, wheezing and is potentially fatal. An intolerance results in a reaction in the small intestine, causing intestinal damage and digestive symptoms.
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It is recommended that babies under the age of one do not ingest honey or products containing honey. This is not because of the risk of allergy, but because these foods may contain a bacteria that can cause infant botulism.
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Recently, the recommendations of when to introduce highly allergenic food have changed. It is now recommended to introduce them as you would any other food, watching for signs of reaction as you would any other food. If you are concerned because of a history of allergies in your family, consult your pediatrician prior to trying something new.
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From the moment your child is born, food allergies are on your mind. If you are breastfeeding, are you eating something that disagrees with him? If you are formula feeding, does the spitting up mean you should switch brands? When is it safe to give your child peanuts? What is the deal with honey? Our parents barely gave a thought to allergies, and now, we live in a world with allergy-free products, peanut-free schools and EpiPens at the ready. We have reason to be cautious, as 1 in 13 American children have food allergies, but what foods should we watch out for?