Understandably parents are anxious about their bubs developing food allergies, especially when introducing potentially allergenic foods for the first time. Let the experts over at Tiny Hearts First Aid take you through the in’s and out’s of your little one and allergies.
First things first… what is an allergy!?
An allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to something in the environment that is usually harmless. An allergic reaction may range from mild to severe. Most parents worry about severe allergic reactions, known as Anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction and is life threatening.
How common are allergies in children?
While food allergies can develop at any age, they are most common in children aged less than five years.
In Australia, food allergies affect 10% of children up to 1 year of age, and between 4-8% of children aged up to five years old. It is estimated that approximately 10 in every 1000 school children suffer from the most severe allergic reaction, Anaphylaxis.
What foods commonly caused allergic reactions?
Nine foods cause 90% of allergic reactions. Peanut allergies receive a lot of attention as they are common; 3% of children under the age of 1 will have an allergy to peanuts. Other foods that commonly cause allergic reactions include eggs, tree nuts, cow’s milk, soy, wheat and seafood.
Should I delay introducing allergenic foods to my baby?
We also get lots of questions about delaying allergenic foods. All babies should be given foods such as peanut butter, cooked egg, dairy and wheat in the first year of life.
The decision to not delay potentially allergenic foods even includes bubs who are at high risk of allergies! There is sufficient evidence that a regular peanut intake before 12 months of age for infants with severe eczema and/or egg allergy can reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy.
The bottom line:
The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy does not promote the delayed introduction of any foods, including peanuts, into an infant’s diet in the first year of life.
What is a peanut party and should I have one?
During our Tiny Hearts courses, many parents raise questions about the safest way to give their baby their first taste of peanuts. We hear about ‘peanut parties’ where parents gather in the carpark of their local hospital or doctor’s clinic to feed their baby peanuts or peanut butter for the first time, for fear of a severe allergic reaction. Peanut parties are not endorsed or supervised by the hospital. A serious allergic reaction is uncommon, and it is very likely that your bub will try peanut butter and be perfectly fine!
What is the difference between a mild, moderate, and severe allergic reaction?
Food allergies are usually obvious and develop with 30 minutes of eating.
Typical symptoms of food allergy include:
- Swelling of face, lips and/or eyes
- Hives or welts on the skin
- Abdominal pain, vomiting
Symptoms of severe allergic reaction (Anaphylaxis) include:
- Difficult/noisy breathing
- Swelling of tongue
- Swelling/tightness in throat
- Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
- Wheeze or persistent cough
- Persistent dizziness and/or collapse
- Pale and floppy (in young children)
If your bub does happen to experience a severe allergic reaction, quick identification and treatment is paramount.
Educate yourself by reading up on food allergies from reliable sources and registering into an infant and child first aid course.
Tiny Hearts is a registered training organisation (RTO #40664). For more information, please visit www.tinyheartsfirstaid.com