Food allergies are scary, and they’re even scarier when it comes to your newborn. How can you spot the signs of an allergic reaction? What should you do if your baby gets hives? At what age could she develop an allergy? It’s overwhelming to think about. These tips will help prep you for emergencies.
WHEN AND WHY DO FOOD ALLERGIES START?
She can develop an allergy at any age, including as a newborn. Allergies occur when the immune system identifies a foreign substance as harmful, even if it isn’t, which can cause irritation, swelling or anaphylaxis, according to the Mayo Clinic. An estimated 6 to 8 percent of children under the age of 3 suffer from some type of food allergy.
WHAT ARE COMMON ALLERGENS?
Dairy, eggs, nuts, peanuts, soy and wheat. Aside from food and environmental allergens (like dust, mold and pets), symptoms may also be triggered by insect stings (bees and wasps), meds (especially penicillin) and latex, says the Mayo Clinic.
HOW DO KIDS DEVELOP ALLERGIES?
If there’s a family history of food allergies, your baby could develop those allergies, too, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In an effort to curb allergies, parents often ask if breastfeeding can help, but that isn’t necessarily the case. A 2019 AAP study says there is no evidence that restricting a mother’s diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding will prevent allergies.
Your infant can still be allergic to breast milk if you eat something they’re allergic to, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). If you notice your baby has developed allergies when you eat certain foods, cut food allergens out of your diet and the proteins should disappear from your breast milk in one to two weeks.
Current medical research doesn’t prove withholding certain solid foods, like peanut butter, eggs or fish, will prevent allergies, says the March of Dimes, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies. You don’t need to eliminate food allergens from your own diet if your baby hasn’t shown symptoms, according to CHOP.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY BABY’S HAVING AN ALLERGIC REACTION?
When your baby tries a new food, these are the symptoms to look for, according to CHOP: diarrhea, bloody stool, vomiting, colic, eczema or constipation. Serious reactions can result in anaphylaxis, which can cause loss of consciousness, a drop in blood pressure, shortness of breath, skin rash, rapid or weak pulse and vomiting. Contact your doctor if your baby exhibits symptoms, and call 911 if you see signs of anaphylaxis. Once your child’s diagnosed, you may be prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector (aka epi-pen), which you should keep on you at all times.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO OUTGROW ALLERGIES?
In some cases, kids can outgrow allergies to wheat, eggs, soy and cow’s milk, but they don’t usually outgrow allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish or shellfish, according to March of Dimes.
If you’re worried your child has developed other allergies or want to see if she’s outgrown them, visit an allergist and ask about allergy testing.