Food Allergy in Kids
Dr. Kangos' Blogs from 2012
There are eight food groups that are implicated in allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in children: cow’s milk, peanut, egg, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish. Crustaceans that we eat are mainly shrimp, crab, lobster and prawn. Many thousands of related species exist, however, in fresh and salt water.
What can Happen?
Food allergy most commonly involves reaction in the skin (hives), lungs (bronchial constriction), gastrointestinal (vomiting and diarrhea), and angioedema (swelling of the tissues under the skin). The most frightening and increasingly common reaction involves angioedema/swelling of the throat and areas around the vocal cords. Any facial, lip or tongue swelling, or hoarseness and loss of voice, are areas of greatest concern for possible airway obstruction. This requires immediate treatment with epinephrine injection (epipen).
Evaluation by a pediatric allergist to determine the exact sensitivities is needed in all cases of anaphylaxis. Preschool children may need annual re-testing whereas older children may only require re-testing every 3 years.
The epipen (adrenaline or epinephrine) is the only immediate treatment available for severe reactions. 1 Benadryl (diphenhydramine), by mouth, is sufficient for milder reactions.
Researchers are looking at specific foods in the maternal diet that might be influencing the development of food allergy in their children. History of problems with asthma, eczema, hay fever and food allergies in the mother, and the family as a whole, are being investigated as underlying triggers.
Since sole breastfeeding during the first 4-6 months of life is the standard for all babies, mom’s diet has come under focus. How is mom’s diet during pregnancy and breast feeding affecting the future “allergic” immune system in her children? Some have advocated a restricted maternal diet in families with significant allergy. When and how to introduce solids also continues to be an issue. The oral route is a mechanism for the initiation of allergy but is being considered as a means to treat allergy as well. These are some of the new directions in the study of allergic disease prevention and treatment.