Get all the details about food allergies in babies with our comprehensive guide. Learn about common allergens, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options to keep your little one safe and healthy. Discover how to identify and manage food allergies in infants and provide the best care for your child.
What is a Food Allergy?
Any undesirable and unexpected reaction that occurs after eating a food or food additive is called “adverse food reactions” .
These reactions can occur in two ways: There may be difficulty in tolerating the food due to a physiological problem caused by the person himself, this is food intolerance.
If a reaction develops with the response of the immune system, in a medical sense, true allergic reactions occur. However, in daily life, all of these are considered food allergies.
What Causes Food Allergies?
Allergy is the overreaction of some people’s immune system to substances that are supposed to be harmless.
Food allergies occur in atopic people whose body structure is genetically prone to allergies. In people with this type of sensitivity, the reactions that develop after the body encounters certain foods are different than expected and specific to that food only.
Hypersensitivity symptoms, which are not seen in healthy people, develop after eating the food that has developed an allergy again. This presents with different clinical findings. In multiple food allergy, the person has an allergic reaction to more than one food, and in this case, any food can touch the person.
In the so-called cross-allergy, a person who is allergic to the protein in a food may react to other foods that have similar protein. There is a risk of cross allergy between cow’s milk and other animal milks, again between chicken eggs and other bird eggs .
On the other hand , there may be children who react to veal in cow’s milk protein allergies and who also react to chicken meat in egg allergies.
What Symptoms Are Observed in People with Food Allergies?
Allergy symptoms can occur in a wide variety of parts of the body. Although the symptoms differ from person to person, the patient may also show different reactions to different allergens.
The most common clinical manifestations of food allergies are:
Foods often cause reactions on the digestive system or on the skin, but sometimes they can also cause symptoms in the respiratory tract.
The sudden onset of severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis and shock (which can be fatal) are the most feared food allergies.
Anaphylaxis is a serious and life-threatening allergic reaction that occurs suddenly after a person comes into contact with an allergen.
Symptoms that can be very diverse include urticaria, angioedema, itching, swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, deepening of the voice, feeling of tightness in the throat, cough, wheezing or wheezing, shortness of breath, respiratory failure, difficulty in swallowing or speaking, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle spasm, sweating, stool or urinary incontinence, irregular heartbeat, drop in blood pressure and pulse, hypothermia (drop in body temperature), dizziness, headache, blackout in the eyes and loss of consciousness.
The most dangerous of these findings, which carry the risk of death, are respiratory distress and low blood pressure .
How Is Food Allergy Diagnosed?
When a food allergy is suspected, it is necessary to answer some questions to reveal whether the patient’s symptoms are really food related. First of all, it should be learned what the suspected food is and how much it has been eaten.
It should be questioned what the signs and symptoms are after taking the food, how long they appear, and whether they have been seen before because of consuming the same food. In addition, the presence of some factors, such as exercise, accompanying the appearance of the patient’s symptoms should be investigated.
The food suspected of being allergic should be excluded from the diet of the mother or the child’s diet in nursing mothers.
Allergy skin tests are used in the diagnosis of food allergies with laboratory tests. Allergy skin tests should be done in full-fledged health institutions and under the supervision of a doctor.
The person interpreting the test results should be experienced in the field of pediatric allergy because these tests may not always give results that are compatible with the clinical findings of the patient. The diagnosis of suspected food allergy is made by considering the patient’s clinical history.
Which Foods Are Mostly Allergic To?
Cow’s milk is one of the foods that causes the most allergies in children all over the world. Allergic reactions caused by cow’s milk protein are very diverse.
Various skin problems can be seen in young infants, ranging from simple itching to severe eczema after eating a food containing cow’s milk protein. Nausea, vomiting, and allergic problems may occur in the entire digestive system, from the esophagus to the large intestine. Sometimes there may be anemia with no other cause.
Cow’s milk protein allergy is also thought to play a role in growth and developmental retardation.
Attention! With all these foods and additives, clinical diseases of various organs and severity can develop, the simplest being itching and the most painful anaphylaxis type of severe reaction.
Is There a Root Treatment for Food Allergy in Children?
Currently, there is no specific treatment for food allergies. There is no other option but to stay away from allergenic foods. The first step in treatment is the complete elimination of the responsible foods from the diet.
There is a perception in our society about food allergies that “nothing happens once and for all.” However, the amount is not important in allergies, allergic reactions can be seen even in very low amounts.
A child with a cow’s milk protein allergy, for example, should not be given yoghurt, cheese, butter, or any other food containing milk.
There are special formulas for children with cow’s milk protein allergy. These formulas contain allergenic milk proteins in smaller molecules or broken down into amino acids.
Physicians should recommend the appropriate formula, taking into account the child’s personal characteristics and the risk level of allergic disease. Particularly as the child grows, his needs and tastes change. For this reason, it is important for mothers to prepare allergy-free menus to ensure their children’s compliance with treatment. At the same time, products are being developed in order to give children the milk they need.
There is also a special formula for children older than 1 year old with a cow’s milk protein allergy to meet their increasing needs and support their growth and development.
Studies are ongoing for the treatment of food allergies through desensitization. However, it is still a very high-risk application, and it is not always possible to develop tolerance. It hopes to be developed in the future.