Understanding the risk factors for food allergy
THIS week we’re taking a look at food allergies and intolerances, how to know the difference, how long they last, risk factors and how you can reduce the risk of your child gaining an allergy.
A food allergy is when your immune system reacts to certain types of food as though it’s toxic and releases chemicals, which can cause major problems.
The most common food allergies include cow’s milk, hen’s eggs, soybeans, peanuts, tree nuts (almond, brazil, cashew etc), sesame, wheat, fish and shellfish.
Luckily most food allergies are not severe and many children will grow out of them.
In many cases your child may have a food intolerance rather than an allergy.
This is when they have a reaction to food that’s not caused by the immune system, generally less severe and sometimes not immediate.
Lactose intolerance (dairy products) as well as intolerance to food additives such as MSG are among the most common, while wheat intolerance is also common (but be careful as wheat allergies are also common).
This depends on the allergy, but most children will grow out of it.
Those children with milk, egg or soybean allergies often will no longer have an issue in their teens, but those with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are likely to have a lifelong allergy.
It’s important not to experiment with allergies yourself.
If you want to see if your child has outgrown it, you should visit your GP.
As for food tolerances, it’s much less certain because it depends on what food and the reason your child’s body is reacting.
If you think they have outgrown it, then you can slowly reintroduce it into their diet to check if it’s gone or you can check with your GP.