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Children and food and allergies, oh, my.


We had a doozy this week. An incident that put me on high-mom alert. Baby M had an allergic reaction to apricots. When he started to show a rash around his mouth and on his stomach, I called the pediatrician. She asked about his symptoms and asked if he were having any trouble breathing. His breathing was normal. In the grand scheme of things, he’s good – nothing a little Children’s Benadryl couldn’t fix. I had an internal anxiety attack. I took a deep breath…and told myself he is fine. Kids get rashes. People have allergies. Now we know and can monitor and act accordingly. But, man…that one raised my heart-rate.

My family has had a history of allergies. My sister and father are both severely allergic to bees and wasps. My niece is allergic to dairy. I, myself, have an allergy to peaches and mangoes. I didn’t develop that allergy until I was 22. Imagine my surprise when I broke out in hives after having a peach cobbler, a food I not only could tolerate, but loved for over 20 years. You can also imagine my disappointment when the mango-salsa craze hit and everyone around me was stimulating their palate full of tropical wonder. Instead of enjoying a meal with friends I am often the high-maintenance princess in the Mexican restaurant asking the wait staff to make sure even the cutting board my food is prepared on is properly cleaned. Smoothie places, please give me a freshly cleaned blender. Ice cream scoopers – a new ice cream scoop. I am incredibly annoying. I am that guy. But I’d rather be annoying than have a reaction.

I thought I had been careful about introducing new foods to Baby M. Daycare had asked if they could give him peaches; I said no, not until I determine if he has inherited my allergies, and we hadn’t gotten that far yet with the new food tasting. What really surprised me was that Baby M has had apricots before. He’s just never reacted this way. So why would he react now? Why did I react to peaches after 22 years? Who knows?

The chemical makeup of the human body is constantly changing. Even if you’re past the point of introducing new foods to your child as a baby, you may run into a newly developed allergy down the road. Our pediatrician’s advice is to introduce new foods only one at a time for three to four days. This way, if our son has a reaction, we know what caused it and we know what to avoid.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, eight types of food account for 90 percent of all reactions:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Allergies can be a very scary thing. Reactions can range anywhere from having your tummy feel a little off, to a slight skin rash, to anaphylactic shock – a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Here’s what you can keep an eye out for if you believe your child is having an allergic reaction. Symptoms often occur minutes after ingestion, but can also be delayed until hours after eating. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests as a parent, you should be cognizant of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Rash or Hives
  • Colic in babies and toddlers
  • Eczema (particularly with dairy)
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the lips or mouth
  • Anaphylaxis (a full-body reaction of swelling, hives, breathing and lowered heart rate)

A disclaimer: if your child has an egg allergy, talk to your doctor about flu vaccines, which may have egg proteins in them.

If you do feel like you or your children may have allergies or you’re worried about this potentially occurring in your family, you can always go to an allergist and get tested. Don’t wait for a detrimental reaction to occur to be put in a compromising position. My rule of thumb is when in doubt, call a doctor. You can always laugh it off if you’re being too over protective and worried as a parent. But if you’re under protective? You can’t take it back. The best bet is to be as prepared as possible, and take a deep breath when the situation is under control.

 Carley Lucas is a working mother of one hysterically giggly 7-month-old. She, her son and her husband live in Central PA and firmly believe a household of laughter is the best form of medicine for any situation.

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