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Children’s Food Allergies

Updated on November 3, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Peanut Allergies

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Peanut Allergy Facts

“A food allergy happens when your immune system overreacts to a specific food protein.” Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies, and the number of children with this allergy has increased in recent years. This allergy can be life-threatening and may require an epinephrine injection.

Recent estimates state approximately 15 million Americans (5.9 million children under 18 years) have food allergies, so approximately 1 in 13 children with food allergies. Furthermore, 30% of children are allergic to more than one type of food. For teachers, they must be aware of allergy symptoms as they may easily have two children with food allergies in a classroom.

As of now, scientist do not know why there is a rise in peanut allergies, but an overactive immune system is one theory. Peanut allergies tend to trigger a more serious reaction than other food allergies. However, a recent LEAP study concluded that introducing peanuts earlier in a child’s life helped prevent the child from food allergies later in life.

Peanuts - Most Serious Food Allergy

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Symptoms of Food Allergies

It only takes a very small amount of peanuts to cause a serious reaction. A mild reaction one time can result in a more serious reaction the next time.

  • Skin reactions include rashes, hives, redness and swelling
  • Runny nose
  • Tingling or itching in the mouth or throat
  • GI difficulties, such as:nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or stomach cramps
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing

Peanuts are the most common cause of anaphylaxis. The symptoms of anaphylaxis can include:

  • Constriction of the airway
  • Swelling of the throat that makes breathing difficult
  • A fast heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness, Loss of consciousness.

Treatment for this type of medical emergency is an epinephrine (adrenaline) injector. The Epipen, Auvi-Q and the Twinject are three types of rescue pens, but a trip to the emergency room is also necessary with anaphylaxis..

In schools approximately 20% to 25% of epinephrine administrations are given to students whose allergies were unknown when they got into distress. Many schools are “nut free” due to allergies, so the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a thing of the past.

Types of Food Allergies

Other Common Child Food Allergies

The most common food allergy for young children is cow’s milk, and the second most common is eggs. Lactose intolerance is not a milk allergy, but caused because a person is missing enzyme lactase. Soybeans are also a common allergy for young children. Children are sometimes allergic to wheat, but they tend to outgrown this allergy by age three.

Other common food allergies for children or adults include tree nuts, shellfish, halibut, tuna and salmon. Peanut allergies tend to have the most severe reaction.

Over 170 food allergies have been reported for adults and children. The cost for US families to care for children with food allergies is almost $25 billion annually.

Be Safe from Anaphylaxis-Mayo Clinic

Treatment of Food Allergies

There is no cure for food allergies, except not eating a particular food. Fortunately, children outgrow some allergies, such as milk, eggs and wheat. Fish, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish are often a lifelong problem.

Certainly talk with your doctor if you child exhibits any food allergy, but specifically if the allergy is peanuts. If your child has a peanut allergy keep an epinephrine pen handy at all times.

Check the expiration dates, and make sure you know how to use the autoinjector. Make sure other family members know how to use the autoinjector as well. Get a backup prescription from your doctor.

Many foods contain peanuts, so it is important to read labels. Some meats are cooked in peanut oil as well. Chick-fil-A uses a peanut oil that has used a complex process to purify the oil by removing the protein that triggers the allergic reaction. However, if you have a serious peanut allergy it would be wise to avoid any food with peanuts or peanut oil.

Ideas for Parents

An exam with the doctor will include the physical for your child and their symptoms will be reviewed. Your child may be referred to an allergy doctor.

What can you do as a parent?

  1. Keep a food diary of your child’s eating habits and any allergy symptoms for specific foods.
  2. An elimination diet may be useful if your child seems to be allergic to more than one food. Eliminate peanuts and any suspect food for a two to four weeks, then introduce them back into the diet one at a time.
  3. For more severe reactions to food a blood test can be given that measures your child’s immune system response to particular foods by checking the amount of allergy-type antibodies.
  4. A skin test can also be done where the skin is pricked with a needle and a small amount of food is placed on that area to see if there is a reaction, such a a raised bump.

Peanut Better

Source

Summary

New research for desensitization for babies to avoid a peanut allergy suggests that introducing foods containing peanuts between 4 and 11 months is effective in preventing peanut allergies in the long term. This is not FDA approved at this time as it is a new concept. Initially, it would probably be wise to introduce a small amount of peanut butter or some other food with peanuts to watch for any reactions.

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peg, I have the same memory. I wonder if processed food has caused more allergies. I just don't know. Thanks you stopping by and commenting.

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    2 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

    It is interesting that food allergies have risen in recent years. I'm remembering the days when flight attendants passed out peanuts to passengers on flights and I never recall anyone having a reaction or refusing the package for reason of allergies. Of course, that was years and years ago. I wonder what has caused this dietary change.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Dianna, My oldest son had a milk allergy that he eventually outgrew also. Thank you for your comments.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    6 months ago

    My grandson had a severe milk allergy until he was twelve years old. For so many years the entire family was practiced in checking labels and cooking to avoid a reaction. Great article and just may save a few lives too.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Genna, It does appear that allergies in children and adults are increasing. The warning signs are a good idea I think. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting Genna.

  • Genna East profile image

    Genna East 

    6 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

    Excellent article, Pam. So well presented, and full of helpful and interesting information. The number of food allergies seems to be increasing in our youngsters, and adults for that matter, and can have serious consequences. I've seen more drive-thru windows post warning signs of allergies as well.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Maria, Thansk so much for your comments. So appreciated and glad to her from you.

    I have read about half of your new book, and it is terrific. It is a great book for just living life in any capacity. I wish you a blessed, peaceful week as well. Hugs for you too.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    6 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Pamela, were you a pediatric nurse?

    Your information is valuable and understandable - great work, as usual.

    Hope you are having a peaceful week. Hugs, Maria

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Linda, I think it is hard for children when they can't eat something all their friends are enjoying. I hope they do learn more about cures also. As always, I appreciate your comments.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    6 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    It's sometimes hard for a child when they have to avoid a food that other people are eating. I hope cures for food allergies are discovered soon. As always, thanks for sharing the information, Pamela.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Peggy, I do think these allergies are much more prevalent today. I didn't know anyone when I was growing up either with food allergies. Thanks so much for your comments

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Louise, That is fortunate, but I think it is a good idea to know the symptoms of anaphylaxis jsut in case you around soneone when it happens. My family and I are lucky also as we have no peanut allergy, or really any other type. Thanks for commenting.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Flourish. You are right as I didn't now one person who had a peanut allergy when I was growing up, or with any of my children's friends. Thanks foor stopping by.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Victoria, I know there are studies about the healthiest way to feed babies and young children. There is just the 1 study about peanut allergies that found peanut allergies occured less frequently if they were introduced between 4-11 months.

    For other foods for babies, I was thinking more of very healthy food for babies, like vegetables and fruits.I know processed food isn't good for anyone, especially children. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Pop, You may very well be right about that. I introduced food early also, and the doctor's were fine with that. I hope people learn about giving peanut butter and other foods early.I apprecie your comments.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    6 months ago from Houston, Texas

    Does it seem to you that food allergies are becoming more common? Back when I was growing up (in the dark ages...ha!) I knew no one with a food allergy. Perhaps that was a coincidence or a fluke? I am amazed that so many children are now afflicted with food allergies. If I bake cookies that have nuts in them I always let people know that nuts are one of the ingredients just to be safe.

  • Coffeequeeen profile image

    Louise Powles 

    6 months ago from Norfolk, England

    I am lucky I have never had a food allergy, and neither has any of my family.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    6 months ago from USA

    I’m glad there’s some kind of action plan to desensitize kids and hopefully prevent peanut allergies. You used to never hear about this but now the prevalence is surprising!

  • VVanNess profile image

    Victoria Van Ness 

    6 months ago from Fountain, CO

    There have been many independent studies done showing that introducing solid foods before the age of 6 months is one of the biggest causes of food allergies, as small infants' systems aren't prepared for digesting the tougher foods yet.

    All of the toxic chemicals and preservatives in processed foods and refined ingredients are the next biggest cause. In adults, their systems attack the synthetic invaders that have attached to the side of their guts, causing holes in the gut or "leaky gut syndrome." When these products that cannot be digested are stored in other areas of the body, or leak out of the gut, all sorts of problems incur causing the massive variety of autoimmune diseases we see today, like Celiac's Disease.

    (That's not an allergy to gluten, but the GMOs, chemicals and preservatives in and on the commercial gluten that is being eaten.) Your body is programmed to attack enemies to your body. Unfortunately, we are purposely flooding our systems with them. Can you imagine what is happening to the tiny bodies of infants trying to fight these invaders? Food allergies are the least that happens. :(

    Great article about food allergies Pamela!

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 

    6 months ago

    When my kids were little, I introduced food early. They ate everything and never had any issue with food allergies. Once doctors decided to withhold food until later, problems started cropping up. I think there is a strong relationship between the two.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Bill, It is good that you had no family experience. One of sons had hay fever but no food allergies. Food allergies are more common from everything I read. I imagine all teachers are aware of this problem. Thanks for commenting.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 months ago from Olympia, WA

    Oddly we have had no one in our family with a food allergy. I had a ton of kids back when I was teaching who had to be careful with peanuts, but my personal family experience is nil!

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