Food Allergy Prevention in Babies

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Food allergies are becoming increasingly common and difficult to navigate for families. In fact, more than 32 million people have been diagnosed with food allergies in the U.S. and that number continues to climb. More than just a nuisance, food allergies can be potentially life threatening. As the threat of allergic reactions grows, more research has been focused on identifying how to test, treat, and prevent food allergies. Major clinical studies and guidelines now recommend that early and regular exposure to potential food allergens can help reduce the risk of a child developing a food allergy.

Helping your baby prevent food allergies can feel overwhelming, and can certainly be an emotional experience for parents. But recognizing the symptoms of a food allergy reaction, understanding what is happening in the immune system, and knowing when to seek help is crucial to ensuring that your baby is able to safely consume foods throughout childhood and adulthood.

Latitude Food Allergy Care was developed by — and for —families with food allergies and we know first-hand the stresses that allergies can cause. We are proud to be able to offer early food introduction to babies as young as 4 months old.

Learn more about food allergy prevention in babies, and discover how Latitude can help safely guide you through this important milestone in your child’s development.

What are the Signs of Food Allergies in Babies?

Food allergy symptoms typically occur within a few hours after eating a certain food, though some reactions may appear sooner. The most common signs of food allergies in babies include skin reactions, such as hives and rashes. However, some babies may experience other symptoms of an allergic reaction, including: 

    • Swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
    • Coughing
    • Wheezing
    • Flushed skin
    • Digestive upset
    • Vomiting

If your baby has any of the above signs, you may want to speak with your pediatrician or an allergist to better understand the risks and reactions.

What Causes the Body to React to a Food?

Food allergies are caused by an immune system reaction to certain proteins. Once a certain food is consumed, the immune system releases antibodies (IgE). These antibodies send an alert throughout the body, causing the body to react to the food protein as if it were a threat. 

In severe cases of food allergy, even consuming small amounts could trigger serious or life-threatening reactions, such as anaphylaxis. For young children and adults, anaphylaxis symptoms may include: 

    • Weak or rapid pulse
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Low blood pressure
    • Constricted airways
    • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
    • Difficulty breathing 

For babies, the signs of anaphylaxis may not always be obvious. Infants may show the following symptoms during an anaphylactic episode: 

    • Severe vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Crankiness
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Wheezing

Anaphylaxis can cause the body to go into shock and must be treated with medical attention immediately. An epinephrine auto-injector is the primary form of treatment to counteract the symptoms of anaphylaxis.

What are the Most Common Food Allergies in Babies?

The most common food allergies in babies are milk, eggs, and peanuts. Though many infants outgrow their allergies, a large percentage of children will have persistent allergies into their teen and adult years. 

Milk Allergy

Statistically speaking, cow’s milk allergy is the most common allergy experienced by infants and young children. As many as 3% of babies are allergic to cow’s milk by the time they reach one year old. By the time they reach age four, 2 in every 100 children are allergic to dairy. 

Learn more about milk allergy testing and treatment at Latitude.

Egg Allergy

A single egg contains more than 23 different types of proteins throughout the yolk and the egg white. Infants with an egg allergy experience adverse reactions after consuming eggs and egg by-products as a result of an immune system response. 

Learn more about egg allergy testing and treatment at Latitude.

Peanut Allergy

Cases of peanut allergy are steadily increasing and can develop at any age, even in infants and young children. Nearly 1.6 million children in the U.S. are currently suffering from peanut allergy. 

While some food allergies like milk and egg are often naturally outgrown before adulthood, peanut allergy can last a lifetime. Because peanut allergy often is severe — putting children at risk of anaphylaxis — early introduction, diagnosis and treatment is crucial to maintaining lifelong health and safety. 

Learn more about peanut allergy testing and treatment at Latitude.

How Do I Introduce Food to Babies Safely?

In the past, clinical guidance for introducing new foods to babies was to avoid common allergens until they turned two or three years old. Recent research, however, has proven that babies are less likely to develop severe allergies if they ingest common allergens sooner. One pivotal study concluded that early peanut introduction in higher risk infants (between 4-11 months of age) decreased the risk of developing peanut allergy by 81%. 

The CDC recommends introducing children to solid foods around 6 months old. They should eat a diet that consists of a variety of foods, including cereals, meat, fruits, vegetables, grains, yogurts, cheeses, and more. When introducing your child to a new food, the best approach is to go slowly and introduce them to one new food at a time. Wait a few days between servings to check for adverse reactions, as this may point to a potential food allergy. 

Children who are at high risk of developing food allergies (this includes children with severe eczema requiring prescription strength creams and ointments and children who already have other food allergies) should consult with their doctor before introducing new foods. Your doctor may refer you to an allergist who can do blood and skin testing to look for a specific antibody called IgE. If the testing is positive, your allergist will evaluate the test results and determine whether or not your child should be introduced to new foods under clinician supervision or just avoid the food completely. 

Children who are not considered high risk (no egg allergy, no or only mild eczema) should introduce peanut and egg as early as 6 months of age, and often do not need further testing or evaluation prior to doing so. 

How to Protect Your Baby from Food Allergies

Leading research shows that early and regular exposure to a variety of foods may reduce the risk of a child developing food allergies. As parents of children with food allergies ourselves, we understand how introducing new foods can be anxiety-producing for families. At Latitude, we offer early food introduction to babies as young as 4 months old in a safe, comfortable, and welcoming clinical setting.

We take great care to ensure the safety of all of our patients of all ages. Foods will only be introduced if the clinician believes that it is safe and that the baby is likely to tolerate the food. Very small amounts of the food are given in increasing amounts over a 4-hour time period under close observation by our highly trained clinical team to ensure safety.

Introducing new foods is especially recommended for infants with eczema who may have a higher risk of developing a food allergy and families that have a history of food allergies.

These guidelines are now recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) for food allergy prevention.

Contact Latitude Food Allergy Care Today

Give your baby the best possible start by preventing food allergies with Latitude Food Allergy Care. Latitude offers comprehensive food allergy care, including diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, for babies, children, and adults. Contact us today to schedule a no-obligation conversation with one of our Patient Care Coordinators.

 

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