Introducing solid foods to babies is the most awaited milestone for all the mums, but a number of mums also consider this as one of the risk factors that cause food allergies in their babies. However, by simply learning about the food allergies and the ways to identify the same in your baby as early as possible can help a lot.
What is a food allergy?
When a baby’s immune system starts to mistake a harmless substance for a harmful one, allergic reactions take place, and to protect your baby’s body from future exposures to this, the immune system starts to produce antibodies.
However, many times, parents tend to confuse the same with food intolerance, which is not the same as a food allergy. An allergic reaction is the result of a baby’s immune system responding to certain exposures, while a baby with food intolerance would find it difficult to digest a certain kind of food. This can be caused by many things, along with an allergen.
Signs of allergies
If your baby is allergic to something they eat, signs proving the same may appear within a few minutes or develop hours later. Although food allergies may present themselves in a number of ways, there are some common symptoms to look out for.
1. Rashes/hives around the nose, mouth and eyes, which may spread
3. Severe gut symptoms
4. Mild swelling of the lips, eyes and face
5. Runny or blocked nose and watery eyes
6. Itchy mouth and irritated throat. In most severe cases, swelling of tongue and throat.
7. Vomiting or diarrhoea
8. Sudden drop in blood pressure
Types of food allergy reactions
Now, after learning about the symptoms, it becomes almost mandatory to know about the three most common types of allergic reactions to food in babies.
1. Immediate Allergic Reaction
After consuming certain allergens, your baby may start to show a number of symptoms, usually within an hour of eating, and hence, the reaction is known to be an immediate allergic reaction. Its symptoms vary from normal rashes to anaphylaxis, which can be dangerous. If you or your partner has any sort of allergy, asthma or eczema, your baby is likely to develop an allergy in most cases, although this isn’t always the case. The reaction occurs usually in a small area like around the lips or on the face.
2. Delayed Allergic Response
Such reactions are harder to identify, as the symptoms usually don’t occur until hours or even days after your baby eats the offending food. The symptoms may also not develop directly, i.e., it could be part of an unwavering condition, like eczema and constipation, but the damage is directly related to the amount of that particular food eaten by your baby.
The most dangerous and extreme allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, is the one that most mums worry about. Being a type 1 reaction, it occurs when the baby’s immune system starts to overreact to an allergen by generating huge amounts of histamine and other chemicals, which further cause the whole body to go into shock. Although the whole body is affected after being exposed to this reaction, the following are some other symptoms.
1. Rapid pulse
2. Dizziness, and loss of consciousness
4. Hives and swelling of skin, lips, and face
5. Nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps along with diarrhoea
6. Pale skin
However, the anaphylactic reactions are not that common in babies and are relatively rare. The risk of it occurring in babies is higher if they have faced a serious reaction before.
In order to prevent such allergic reactions or to recognise foods your baby is allergic to, it is important to follow the given guidelines.
1. Until your baby is at least 6 months of age, try not to feed him/her any sort of solid food, as his/her immune system will be upgraded by reaching that stage.
2. Try to introduce only one new food at a time to your baby and wait for a few days to detect whether a reaction is occurring or not. It will then become easy for you to know about the food causing the reaction and hence, you can eliminate the same from her diet.
3. Try not to include foods that are known to be allergic in nature to your child’s diet, For example, eggs, nuts and citrus fruits.
4. If in doubt about some foods, discuss them with a medical professional.