Monday, October 31, 2005

Children's Food Sensitivities and Allergies

By Christina VanGinkel

If you have an infant that is getting ready to make the jump from formula or breast milk, to regular milk, and at the same time you are starting to introduce more solid foods, be sure to keep track of what your child has eaten, especially important if allergies or any food sensitivities seem to run in your family. You should also try to introduce only one new food every few days. The reason behind this being that if your child does show sensitivity to a food, or has an outright allergic reaction, you may not know which food was the culprit, and you would be forced to exclude all the recently tried foods.

The best way to keep track of foods tried is to make a log of when a food was first tried, if they liked it, how much of the food was eaten, and if there was any reaction to it all. Reactions could vary from a mild rash showing up the diaper area, to hives or even trouble breathing, which would of course require immediate attention at a hospital.

Keep in mind that reactions to foods can manifest themselves in unusual ways. My youngest son kept breaking out in hives beneath his arms. I finally realized that anytime he drank quite a bit of juice, especially those with high levels of citrus, he would get this rash. What he was sensitive too was the citrus itself. We limited how much he drank at one time, and he is now able to enjoy the occasional glass of orange juice, though he still avoids juice mixes that have citrus added.

Just switching from formula or breast milk to regular milk can cause its own host of problems, and that is why most pediatricians will recommend that you avoid adding any other new foods to your child's diet for the few weeks surrounding the switch from one to the other. Some infants will have actual milk intolerance, while others will just need a few weeks for their tummies to adjust. If you are also introducing many other things at the same time though, it can be too easy top blame your infant's sudden bouts of gas on any number of things.

If at any time you feel that your child has a true allergy, whether it is to milk products or some other food, consult with your child's doctor, or as I said before, head right to the emergency room or call 911. Food allergies can be a significant danger and should not be treated lightly.

My son was fed two very tiny shrimp, and within a matter of minutes, we were on our way to the emergency room where he spent the remainder of the evening and night hours being treated for severe vomiting and hives. There was no warning to his reaction other than the symptoms sudden onset. With the citrus, he had a more gradual reaction. Each child and each set of symptoms can vary greatly, so be prepared to deal with them if your child happens to be a child that is sensitive or has an allergy. By simply keeping track of what foods you have introduced, and doing so one food at a time, you will be able to quickly let the doctors know what food brought on the allergy and this will help an y treatment they need be that much more successful and effective.

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