Food allergies and sensitivities can occur at any time, and while we hope that early introduction as a baby will help prevent some of these, we still want to make sure you have all the information you need in case your child begins to show sign of a possible food allergy or sensitivity.
Before the Diagnosis
Do not diagnose a food allergy on your own. Self-diagnosis can lead to unnecessary dietary restrictions and inadequate nutrition, especially in children. An allergist will take a thorough medical history, asking questions about overall health and eating habits to determine if food allergy may be causing your child’s symptoms and to identify the culprit food(s). The allergist will also perform a physical exam. Keeping a food and symptom journal prior to your visit can be a helpful tool to assist the doctor in establishing your child’s medical history.
The allergist may decide that further testing is needed before a diagnosis can be made.
After the Diagnosis
There’s no approved treatment to prevent food allergy reactions, so allergy management requires strict avoidance of the problem food. Young children are messy eaters, and infants are eager to explore everything they encounter with their mouths, making staple foods like cow’s milk, cheese and yogurt especially hard to avoid.
Taking care of yourself
The constant vigilance needed to manage a young child’s food allergy takes a mental, emotional and even physical toll on parents. More than 90 percent of food allergy centers in the FARE Clinical Network report treating patients whose parents suffer from anxiety related to their child’s allergies. And compared to mothers whose young children do not have food allergies, mothers of food-allergic children under age 5 have higher blood pressures and report greater stress. If you’re a parent or caregiver who’s experiencing food allergy stress, it’s important to take care of yourself, too.
Infant Food Allergy Basics
How a Child Might Describe a Reaction
Children have unique ways of describing their experiences and perceptions, and allergic reactions are no exception. Precious time can be lost when adults do not immediately recognize that a reaction is happening or don’t understand what a child is telling them.
Know What to do in an Emergency Situation
Symptoms can range from mild to severe or even life-threatening and can occur alone or in combination. If you have any concerns about your baby’s response to a new food, seek medical attention or call 9-1-1 right away.
Food Allergy Diagnosis and Testing
Learn more here about methods of diagnosis currently in use, and why better tools are essential to improving the lives of individuals and families managing food allergy.
Food allergies should also be considered when your child has previously been diagnosed with one of the following disorders. Symptoms among these disorders are often similar or related, so it is important to work closely with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Seek Resources and Support
A food allergy diagnosis is life-changing, both for the child and for the entire family. Connecting with others who are in the same situation and sharing experiences and support can be incredibly helpful. It also helps to know you are not alone.
Learn to Use the Epinephrine Auto-injector
If your child had a serious reaction, hopefully you received a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector. If not, call your doctor’s office today so that you child can be evaluated, diagnosed and given a prescription. Have your doctor demonstrate how to use it. Then practice with the trainer.