Identifying and Avoiding Baby Food Allergies and Digestive Problems
There are many things to think about when you begin introducing new foods into your baby’s diet, and you want to be confident that you are doing the very best for her or him. Avoiding any food allergies or digestive problems will be at the top of the list if you want to make sure that baby is happy and healthy.
A few simple ideas to help you:
- Always follow The 4 Day Rule when introducing any new food.
- Know which foods to avoid.
- If you suspect a food allergy, consult your baby’s doctor straight away.
- Always speak with your baby’s doctor before introducing new foods.
Digestive Problem…or Food Allergy?
A digestive problem from intolerance of a certain food is not the same as a food allergy.
- An allergic reaction is a response by the immune system to a certain food.
- A baby with a food intolerance has difficulty digesting a certain food – possibly due to an allergen, or your baby could be lacking a particular enzyme.
What is a food allergy?
An allergic reaction occurs when a baby’s immune system mistakes a harmless substance in a food for a harmful one.The immune system produces antibodies to protect baby if there is any future exposure to the same food. When baby is first exposed to the allergen there may be no symptoms, but when there are later exposures, the antibodies cause an allergic reaction.
The risks of your baby having a food allergy…
- Food allergies affect around 8% of babies –so all parents need to be alert to possible problems.
- If you have an allergy, your baby is more likely to have one too – though not necessarily caused by the same allergen.
- If both you and your partner have allergies the risk is even higher.
A food allergy in a baby can only be diagnosed by a doctor or an allergist performing a skin prick test or blood test.
Symptoms to watch for…
If you notice any of these problems or have any concerns, talk with your baby’s doctor:
Digestive system problems:
- Excess gas (wind)
- Tummy cramps and discomfort
- Possibly blood in the stools
- Redness or rashes
Eye, nose and ear problems:
- Watery or red eyes
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Allergy-related ear infection – caused when the Eustachian tubes connecting the nose and ear become congested
Anaphylactic (allergic) shock – a rare, but very serious allergic reaction.
GET MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY IF YOUR BABY HAS:
- Welts and itchiness on the skin
- Lung spasms
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
- Swollen tongue and throat – baby cannot breathe.
Ways of protecting your baby…
- Delay giving solids until baby is 6 months old – digestive and immune systems will be stronger.
- Be extra cautious if your baby is already at a higher risk because of a family history of allergy.
- Do not be pressured to introduce solids earlier by ‘helpful’ friends or relatives.
- Follow The 4 Day Rule as you introduce each new food – if there is a particular food that causes problems,you can identify it quickly.
- Avoid foods that are more likely to trigger allergic reactions.
- Discuss any concerns with your child’s doctor.
Do children outgrow allergies and digestive problems?
The good news is that most young children do!
However, allergies to foods like nuts, fish and shellfish are often life-long. Ask for your doctor’s advice about these.
If a food has caused a digestive problem, it may have been introduced too early. Speak to your doctor about re-introducing it when your baby is older.
This information presented to you acts as a guide which contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.
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