What is food allergy?
Abnormal response of the body to a certain food, resulting in clinical responses ranging from mild itchy rash to severe allergic response that can potentially be deadly.
How common is it?
- They are most common in children up to 3 years of age
- 6% of children below 1 year old has food allergy
- 3-4% by the time they reach 5 years old
What are the common type of food that can cause allergy?
90% of all food allergies are caused by the following eight foods
Milk ( common ), Egg ( common ), Wheat, Soy, Tree nuts, Peanuts ( common ), Fish, Shellfish.
Most severe reactions usually comes from
Peanuts, Tree nuts, Fish, Shellfish.
Is food allergy life long?
- 80% will out grow milk allergies
- 66% will out grow egg allergies
- 80% will outgrow soy or wheat allergies
Unfortunately, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts , fish and shellfish may be lifelong.
Food Allergy Symptoms
Different people react differently and in varying severity
- Eyes: Itchy, tearing, swelling
- Mouth and Throat: Lip swelling, throat, itchiness, and tightness, hoarseness of voice.
- Airway: Coughing, Wheezing
- Skin: eczema, hives
- Others: Vomiting, Diarrhea
In young infants
- Allergies ( usually to milk ): may present itself as abdominal pain, blood in stool or poor growth.
Diagnosis of food allergy
- Skin prick test: This test involves placing liquid extracts of food allergens forearm or back, pricking the skin so as to see if reddish raised spots (called wheals) form within 15 minutes.
- Blood Test : to check the blood for IgE antibodies to specific foods
- Food challenge test : these are often done at a later stage to see if the child has outgrown the food allergy
How to prevent or delay onset of food allergy
- If possible, breastfeed infant for 6 months
- Do not give solid food until after 6 months
- Avoid cow’s milk, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts and fish before 6 months
Treatment of food allergy
- Avoidance of food - ( please read product details/inserts carefully )
- If accidentally taken - treat with medications
- Emergency and if known severe reactions: Epipen ( Epinephrine )
- Mild : Antihistamine, steroids
- Young infants who are allergic to cow’s milk can switch to breast milk, hypoallergenic formula or soy milk.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)