Children with food allergies ... part one

Something that I've been thinking about lately is babies. Cute, pudgy cheeked munchkins with my curls and outgoing nature, and my husband’s long eyelashes, gingery colouring, and sharp sense of humour. 

Our children will be beautiful, smart, funny and all round great girls/guys <I’m already biased in their favour>.

Being of the glutey persuasion, something we need to plan for is the likelihood of our children having food allergies. 

There’s a bit of debate about allergies and whether they are caused by genetic or environmental factors, or a combination of both. One thing that the research does show though is that parents with food allergies are more likely to have children with food allergies.

Being a carrier of the Coeliac marker gene, chances are that our children will also be Coeliacs or at least carry the gene.

With that in mind, I've been talking to parents of allergic children to hear their story – how they manage on a day-to-day basis and their pathway to diagnosis. There’s lots to talk about, so I’ll spread the posts over a few weeks.

Anyway, let’s start.

How do you know if your child has food allergies or intolerances?

The symptoms of a food allergy do not always appear to be gut related on the surface, which can make diagnosis really tricky. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, even life-threatening.

Cale - happy and healthy on his allergy-free diet

Mother of two, Jenaya hadn't had any experience with food allergies until the birth of her youngest son “Cale was unsettled pretty much from birth.  He was constantly squirming in pain, would scream at night time with stomach cramps/pains.  Had chronic wind problems. Irregular bowel motions and ‘Allergic shiners’ all the time.  

"There were obvious signs of discomfort during day and night and he developed a rash on his face.  Once I had introduced formula (the cows milk protein kind) he constantly had bronchiolitis and chest/throat infections.” Cale was eventually diagnosed with food intolerances to gluten, egg, dairy, soy and food colourings.

Catherine has two children with severe food allergies, their symptoms were quite different to those described by Jenaya, and could be life threatening. “They start coughing as their throat closes, intense hives and itching, swelling and redness occurs.” This response to food is typical of an anaphylactic reaction, which requires close monitoring and use of an epi-pen to prevent asphyxiation.

Not sure if your child has a problem with food? Here’s a short list of just some of the signs that your child could have an allergy:

  • Hives or welts
  • Flushed skin or rash
  • Face, tongue, or lip swelling
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Urinary infections
  • Eczema
  • Itchy mouth or ear canal
  • Odd taste in mouth

And more …

Take care out there folks, look after your children’s health as well as your own!

Note: The symptoms described above can also be signs of other health issues, so make sure you see a pediatrician rather than self-diagnosing, and don’t adjust your child’s diet without talking to a medical professional.

References:

http://www.foodallergy.org/symptoms 

http://www.babycenter.com/0_food-allergies_12409.bc

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16476197

http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/allergies/allergy.html

http://www.celiaccentral.org/riskfactors/