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The Basics of Food Allergies

As you may know, our immune system protects us from infections by attacking the viruses and bacteria that can make us sick.

With a food allergy, the body's immune system mistakenly sees certain food proteins as unwelcome intruders (allergens) and attacks them. This attack is called an allergic reaction. The eight most common food allergens are the proteins found in milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts), peanuts, wheat and soy. However, it is not uncommon for children to be allergic to other foods or have multiple food allergies. Infants and young children are more sensitive to these proteins and are more prone to food allergies in general. Your child may be allergic to one or more food proteins and may even be allergic to small fragments of these proteins found in hypoallergenic hydrolyzed formulas.

Some allergic reactions are immediate and severe, while others are less severe and may take days to appear. For example, severe breathing problems could appear instantly after eating just half a peanut. Or the reaction may take days and a larger portion of food—such as a glass of milk—to appear. Skin rashes and diarrhea are typical of these kinds of allergic reactions.

Part of the Body Affected
by Allergic Reactions
Reflux-like symptoms
Blood in the stool
Respiratory Sneezing
Severe breathing problems
Other Eye, lip and facial swelling

Most of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than a food allergy, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, ask your doctor. 

Cow Milk Allergy

We know milk allergies can make life miserable for you and your baby. Milk allergies may cause symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea. Or you might see skin rashes or eczema, and even respiratory issues like wheezing.

Soy Milk Allergy

Soy allergies can make life tough for you and your child. Soy allergy is most commonly found in infants, who typically begin showing symptoms around three months of age. The good news is that most children outgrow soy allergy during their childhood.

Multiple Food Protein Intolerance

Multiple food allergies are common. You are not alone, but they can make life challenging for you and your child. Experts estimate that six to eight of every 100 infants are allergic to one or more foods, and that three out of 100 older children are as well.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

All babies spit up. That’s just normal. But when your baby spits up all the time, isn’t gaining weight, and seems distressed or always unhappy, trust your feelings and ask your doctor. It may be a sign of something more serious—such as gastroesophageal reflux (GER).

Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Your child’s body has a number of tools to fight off infection. One of these tools is a type of white blood cell called an eosinophil. Eosinophils are normally located throughout the digestive system, where they do their job quite well.

Short Bowel Syndrome

Short bowel syndrome (otherwise known as SBS) is a serious condition that makes it difficult for your child to get the nutrition they need to grow.

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