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Can Food Allergies Cause Behavior Problems in Children?

Updated on June 5, 2011

When my daughter was 2 1/2 years old, I came across an article in the local newspaper about a local boy with food allergies, this put me and my daughter on a path that has worked for her. I will need to tell our story in many articles, this is article #1 and hopefully I will be able to help other Mothers who maybe experiencing the things we have been through.

When my daughter was born she was allergic to dairy formula and soy formula. At 4 days old she was put on a hypoallergenic formula due to a rash on her entire body. She stayed on this formula until switching to milk and solid foods. She was a colic baby for her first six months. We never thought about food allergies again until she was 2 1/2.

When my daughter was 2 1/2 we began seeing noticeable changes in her, she was a very happy little girl, she loved to sing and dance, always smiling and pleasant and the normal two year old behavior. She started to have tantrums, she would be fine one minute and the next kicking and screaming. When this would happen she would be inconsolable to say the least. These were not the normal crying spells of most children. At first I thought, oh the terrible twos. I then noticed it was apparently related to certain things she was eating. She would be fine, give her a grape, marshmallow, food coloring, peanut butter, she was kicking and screaming. I asked her doctor at the time, could this be related to food and he said no.

Well I kept on experimenting with it and it was becoming very clear that it was related. She was attending pre-school and one day I went to pick her up, her teacher said each day after snack they had to separate her for behavior issues with the other children. They said she would not get along with the other kids and even said they did not see how she would be able to continue regular school. Well I was taken back by this (she is now 17 and has done wonderful with schooling and will graduate high school next year). I told them I had a feeling she was reacting to food allergies and asked what they were giving her for snacks. They said always grape juice with a snack. I changed to water and her behavior got much better at school.

I then took it upon myself to go to a regular allergist and tell him my suspicions and see how she tested. He was not big on behavior issues with allergies, but tested her for grapes, marshmallow(corn), peanuts, milk, soy, and others. He gave me a list of the items she tested positive for (all of the above and more) and I based her diet on eliminating these items. The behavior changes in her were enough to know that the food was definitely related.

I then read an article in our local newspaper with a Mother doing the same thing with her child and it was working. I at least had some support now for my theory on my child's food allergies and some new directions to look into. We have been down many paths for the past 15 years, and many more doctors are now open to food allergies and behavior. I will continue to write articles in a series to provide all of the details in our years of trials and what worked for my daughter and what did not.

If you think your child is having issues with food allergies and behavior, follow your gut, take the time to try the elimination diets and read as much as you can. It will not be easy, you need to read labels on everything and change your normal way of preparing food, but the results for you and your child will be well worth it.


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