An estimated 5.6 million children and adolescents under age 18 have food allergies. Children with food allergies are commonly allergic to more than one food. In fact, roughly 40% of children who have food allergies are allergic to more than one food. 

What’s more, food allergies are on the rise, making it crucial to raise awareness of how to spot the warning signs of food allergies. If you suspect that your child has a food allergy, you should visit allergy specialist Dr. Ulrike Ziegner at Riviera Allergy Medical Center for answers.

In this blog, Dr. Ziegner lists the top five foods that cause food allergies in children.

Symptoms of food allergies

Many symptoms are similar among food allergies. Symptoms can be minor to severe. Symptoms can include the following:

  • Gas
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Red and itchy skin
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat, and tongue

If you spot any of these symptoms after your child eats something, make a note of it. Your child may have a food allergy. If the symptoms are minor and repeat, see Dr. Ziegner right away. If the symptoms are severe, call 911 immediately.  All patients with known food allergies have to have access to epinephrine autoinjectors (“EpiPens”).

Top five food allergies in children

1. Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in infants and young children. You may notice symptoms when you first introduce your child to milk and food that contains milk. Most children who develop a milk allergy do so within the first year of life, which might present as bloody diarrhea.

2. Eggs

Children who are allergic to chicken eggs have a higher likelihood of being allergic to other types of eggs, including duck, quail, and turkey eggs. Symptoms from an egg allergy may occur within minutes of eating food with eggs, or may begin within a few hours. Eggs are an ingredient in many foods, and even foods you may not expect to contain eggs may have eggs as an ingredient. Some patients are only allergic to raw eggs (in puddings, mayonnaise, salad dressings), but some patients are also allergic to baked-in eggs.  Dr Ziegner will be able to nail it down for you.

3. Peanuts

Peanuts are one of the most common food allergens in children, and allergies to peanuts are on the rise. In fact, since 2010, there’s been a 21% increase in peanut allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Peanuts belong to the legume family, not to nuts, and symptoms usually appear within minutes of ingestion. Peanuts can cause a life-threatening reaction in some children. In fact, some children may be unable to tolerate even tiny amounts of peanuts or peanut dust. Of note is that peas cross-react with peanuts.

4. Tree nuts

Tree nuts are one of the most common causes of a more severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This life-threatening reaction can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen. Anaphylaxis causes the immune system to release substances that can cause the body to go into shock. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical intervention.

5. Fish

Children with a fish allergy may be allergic to certain types of fish and not others. This is different from a seafood allergy, where a child is allergic to fish and shellfish. Children with a fish allergy will only have a reaction to fish, not shellfish. It’s not uncommon for children with a fish allergy to have a reaction from simply touching fish or inhaling vapor from fish that is cooking. A fish allergy can develop at any time. Children who have had no problems eating fish in the past can develop a fish allergy.

Referred to as the “Big 8,” three more foods join the previous five in contributing to 90% of food allergies. These foods are shellfish, wheat, and soybeans. Together, these foods cause most allergies in children and adults.

If you suspect that your child has a food allergy, it’s time to see an allergist. Dr. Ziegner can evaluate your child and their symptoms and get them on the path to good health. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Riviera Allergy Medical Center today.

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