Food allergies in children are steadily on the rise, affecting approximately 1 in 13 children, or about two students in every classroom.¹ While the cause of this increase is unclear, nutrition plays a key role in preventing or minimizing allergies in children. More than 170 foods have been reported to cause reactions in the U.S., and approximately 90% of food allergies are caused by eight foods including milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that most children outgrow allergies during early childhood, but reactions to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are more likely to persist.
The Latest American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines
According to a 2019 report published by the AAP, early introduction of allergenic foods may prevent some food allergies in children.² Unchanged from the 2008 report, there was no evidence that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods beyond 4-6 months prevents food allergy, but the timing of this introduction is based on multiple factors including family and cultural preferences. The data also suggests that the early introduction of infant-safe, peanut-containing foods reduces the risk of peanut allergies, but the data is less clear for the timing and introduction of eggs. For infants with mild to moderate eczema, it is recommended to introduce peanut-containing foods at around six months. Furthermore, the evidence did not support restricting a mother’s diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding as a way to prevent allergies.
Know the Signs & Symptoms
More often than not, many symptoms and illnesses or intolerances are mistaken for food allergies. For this reason, it’s imperative for clinicians to understand the symptoms of childhood food allergies in order to help educate parents and caregivers. According to the AAP, common symptoms include skin abnormalities (i.e. hives, itchy skin rashes and swelling); breathing problems (i.e. sneezing, wheezing, throat tightness), stomach symptoms (i.e. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), and circulation symptoms (i.e. pale skin, light-headedness, loss of consciousness). Anaphylaxis is a rapid and severe allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention and includes a wide-range of symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, trouble breathing or swallowing, swelling of the lips or tongue, weak pulse and dizziness or fainting. For infants, these symptoms may also include unusual sleepiness and sudden drooling.
Encourage Proactive Planning
Despite the growing research and treatment for pediatric allergies, experts suggest that many patients, families and schools are still not prepared to manage allergic reactions. With this in mind and considering the importance of prompt initiation of treatment, the AAP created The Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan, which is a customizable, written emergency plan for use by healthcare professionals, families and schools to help ensure that proper planning is in place for those students with allergies, including any necessary medications.
Seek Expert Support
In addition to providing proper planning and a safe and nurturing environment, comprehensive management of pediatric food allergies should include effort on the part of parents, caregivers and schools and ongoing monitoring, support and education from a pediatrician, allergist and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Education about food avoidance, including food label reading, is key to preventing reactions. Nutritional evaluation and growth monitoring for children with food allergies are also recommended. Click here for helpful resources from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to share with parents and caregivers on how to support children with food allergies in and out of the classroom.
Orgain Supports Families Managing Food Allergies
Just as important as what’s in Orgain products is what’s not in them. All of our products are made without eggs, wheat, soy, fish, or shellfish ingredients. Any products containing peanuts, tree nuts, and dairy clearly indicate ingredient usage. However, there are several Orgain products made without any of the eight major allergens. Please check the list of ingredients for each specific product you are considering for your children and/or your patients or clients by viewing our recently updated and complete Orgain Product Guide for Healthcare Professionals.
¹ Food Allergies. (2020, June 08). Retrieved September 03, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/foodallergies/index.htm
² Greer, F. R., et al. Pediatrics. 2019; 143(4) e20190281, doi: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-0281