In today’s society our children face many of life’s obstacles very early, even while at the breast. Some children react to breast milk. This of course is very rare and is usually attributed to what their mother is eating. There may be a lactose intolerance or a reaction to a certain type of food which their mother is eating which passes through the breast milk to the child. Some of these children may grow out of their reaction other may be found intolerant or allergic to these foods. Food intolerances can also occur with bottle fed babies such as a cows milk intolerance. Some allergies and food intolerances are only picked up when a child starts solids and is introduced to these foods. Not all children develop food allergies or intolerances but it is good to be aware of other who are.
Difference between food allergies and intolerances.
What is the difference between food allergies and intolerances? An allergy will give an immediate response as it is the immune system reaction to food proteins. An intolerance doesn’t involve the immune system but is triggered by food chemicals which irritates the nerve endings. These chemicals are found in groups of foods which accumulate in the body and eventually cause a reaction.
Food allergies are often inherited and are associated with eczema, asthma and hay fever. Food allergies can range from mild to severe causing vomiting, cramps and diarrhoea, hives, swelling on the face, mouth, eyes. The most sever is a life threatening anaphylaxis attack which cause breathing difficulties due to the throat and tongue swelling or asthma. Common children’s allergies are soy and cows milk, egg, sesame, wheat, seafood, peanut and other nuts. Many children grow out of their food allergies by five but peanut and seafood may continue through adulthood. Allergies but not intolerances can be diagnosed through a skin prick test.
Many foods have additives including colourings and preservatives but others have natural chemicals those low in chemicals are almost never a problem. Natural chemicals in foods help to enhance their flavour. Levels may either be high in unripe fruits and decrease with ripening or visa versa. MSG for example is found naturally in tomato, mushroom, silverbeet, prune, plum and grape. Organically grown foods may have higher levels of natural preservatives and pesticides in their skin.
Foods moderate in natural chemicals
- Pear, apple (golden, red delicious), mango, banana, papaya, rhubarb.
- Choko, potato, sweet potato, swede, leeks, celery, carrot, beetroot, marrow, pumpkin, parsnip, turnip, peas, snow peas, Chinese veg, asparagus.
- Chicken, eggs, fresh fish, veal, rabbit, lamb, beef. Dairy foods other than mild and tasty cheeses.
- Rice, arrowroot, barley, rolled oats, sago, wheat, rye, buckwheat.
Foods high in chemicals
- Avocado, date, kiwi fruit, orange, pineapple, grape, plum prune, sultana.
- Cauliflower, eggplant, broccoli, mushroom, silverbeet, tomato, broad bean.
- Tuna, salami, sausages, seasoned meat and chicken, tasty cheese.
- Honey, jams, fruit or chocolate flavoured drinks, stocks and sauces.
Food intolerances are rarely serious. If you suspect your child has a food intolerance or allergy contact your family doctor of Paediatrician.
The good news is children often grow out of food intolerances and allergies.
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit, NSW has put out a recipe book called “Friendly Food’. It is a guide to avoiding allergies, additives and problem chemicals in foods and can be purchased through the allergy clinic or your local book store.
Tips: Don’t rush to start your baby on solids. Four month is the age that is now recommended. See our article "Thinking about starting your baby on solids?"
Remember: Always intorduce children to a new food slowly. Give at leaset 5 days between intoducing each new food. It is recommended to offer one small serve at the beginning of the day just incase there is a reaction to the food giving you time to seek medical assistance.
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