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Food allergies in children: The signs to watch out for

There are signs to recognize food allergies, and finding them early is key.

SAN ANTONIO — The number of Americans with food allergies has more than doubled in just the last 10 years. But the signs and symptoms of those allergies can often look very different for children compared to adults.

According to research from the Center for Food Asthma and Allergy, one in 13 children suffer from a severe food allergy. The reactions to those allergies can be even more deadly for the little ones.

To put the numbers in perspective, Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine told us, “Two in every classroom. So very common. And infants and toddlers have similar symptoms but some are more frequent in young children.”

Johns Hopkins University says some of the most common food allergy symptoms in children include vomiting; diarrhea and cramps; itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth or throat; difficulty breathing; wheezing; and lowered blood pressure.

“Skin that you see hives, swelling, redness, itching,” Gupta added. “I want to point out that this can be different in different skin tones, and it doesn’t always happen. But it is one of the most common in infants.”

The most common foods that cause allergies are milk and eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts and peanuts, and fish and shellfish.

“Because babies can’t talk to you, it’s important to watch them for excessive fussiness or tiredness and lethargy,” Gupta said.

To prevent food allergies, Johns Hopkins recommends breastfeeding your infant for the first six months. Don’t give solid foods to your child until they’re at least six months old. And avoid cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts, and fish during your child’s first year of life.

But if they do ingest a food with an allergy, remember to have an EpiPen.

“One of the main things if you do have a severe food allergic reaction is using an epinephrine auto injector,” Gupta said.

You can learn more here about food allergies in children and EpiPens, including an FDA-approved one that actually talks you through the process called AUVI-Q.

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