Allergy is an immune reaction to common substances. The body responds to these ordinary organisms as if they were germs. There is a connection between the different forms of allergy. Of the children under three who have eczema, 50 - 60% of them have a food allergy. Babies can also suffer from allergies. 2 to 6% of all babies born are given cow milk allergies. Many children eventually grow over their food allergies when they are 4 or 5 years old. A cow's milk allergy is over in most children if they are 2 or 3. An allergy to peanuts and nuts is often lifelong.
Once a child has had a cow's milk allergy or a different kind of food allergy, this is often a sign that the child has a predisposition to allergies. Chances are that your child will later experience hay fever or become susceptible to pets and / or house mites. It can also suffer from a food allergy later on.
What is food hypersensitivity?
Food hypersensitivity is a collective term for all hypersensitivity reactions to food. Food allergy and non-allergic food hypersensitivity (previously referred to as food intolerance) are both covered here.
Food allergy is an undesirable reaction to food. The cause of this is an abnormal reaction of the body's natural defense mechanism. The immune system makes specific antibodies against proteins in the diet that are normally considered 'harmless'. If the antibodies come into contact with the proteins against which it is produced, a reaction occurs. All kinds of substances are released that eventually cause allergic symptoms. Examples of proteins for which an allergy may exist are: cow's milk, egg, soy, peanut and nuts. The predisposition to develop an allergy is partly determined by genetic means.
Breastfeeding and (suspected) food allergy
In mother's milk, traces of foods that are eaten or drunk by the mother can be found. Usually this does not cause any problems, but for some children these traces are sufficient to cause food allergies and give complaints. In case of suspicion of food allergy, advice from the clinic or the general practitioner is required. Further research is then needed to find out whether food allergy causes the symptoms or if there is another cause.
The symptoms that can occur as a result of food allergies are, for example, colic, diarrhea, eczema or a rash. If a child has such symptoms, it can thus indicate an allergy to certain foods. The sysmptoms can also have very different causes such as teething, a vaccination or a cold.
When a child is allergic to a food such as cow's milk, it can also react to other foods. The introduction of supplementary feeding can therefore best be done in consultation with a dietitian.
The chance of developing an allergy is greatest in the first six months after birth.