There have been many discussions about whether certain foods trigger allergic reactions in children. But there are some things that parents can do to reduce their child’s allergy risk.
Exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months is highly recommended by all paediatric institutions around the world for allergy prevention. Infants who are breastfed, on average, are less likely to suffer from allergies than those receiving standard cow’s milk protein infant formula.
According to Dr Liew Woei Kang, paediatrician at SBCC Baby & Child Clinic, Gleneagles Medical Centre, your baby should only be introduced to new foods when he/she is ready for weaning. Dr Liew recommends waiting to introduce solid foods after 4-6 months, as this is when your baby’s gastrointestinal system is able to cope with solid foods.
Food allergies in kids: Dr Liew Woei Kang shares some tips on spotting allergic symptoms in children.
One food at a time
Food allergies in kids: Offer your child one new food at a time to keep track of food allergies.
To minimise allergic reactions, do introduce one new food at a time, and watch out for any adverse effects. There is no need to deliberately avoid any food. In the past, it was advisable to delay the introduction of shrimps and peanuts, but research has shown that this has not led to reduced food allergy rates. Instead, in countries adopting this practice, the food allergy rates have risen even faster. That is why in 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics withdrew this statement and recommended that the introduction of solids, including new foods, be done gradually.
Click on page 2 to read more about food allergies in kids
Common symptoms of food allergies in kids
Food allergies in kids: Learn to look out for common allergic symptoms in your child.
Common food allergy symptoms include rashes like hives and eczema, which often occur within a day of consuming the food. While eczema is present in 10-20% of Singaporean children, only 20-30% of babies with more severe eczema will have a food allergy/trigger. Eczema is primarily a dry skin disease, and most children with eczema do not have food allergies.
Other common allergic symptoms include eye or lip swelling, vomiting, fresh blood in the stools, or acute breathlessness like wheezing. Food allergies can be recognised easily, as they are closely related to the timing of food ingestion, and will usually appear each time the food is ingested.
If you have concerns regarding your child’s allergic symptoms, discuss them with your doctor. Your doctor may then call for a simple skin prick allergy to diagnose common food and environmental allergies.
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Click here to watch part 1 of Dr Liew’s Ask the Expert series on childhood allergies.