Common Allergy Culprits in Children

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Home Remedies

Dear Karla,
My son has eczema all over his face and very bad asthma. Do you think it could be the milk he is drinking?

In Canada, 12 - 25 per cent of children suffer from eczema, with 90 per cent of cases occurring before a child's fifth birthday.

As for asthma, the National Population Health Survey reported asthma in 12.2 per cent of the Canada's under 20s.

Numerous studies have shown a strong link between asthma and allergies. In Canada, the nine most common food allergens that could act as a trigger for your son are:

When your body comes into contact with a protein irritant (like milk) an immune reaction takes place. The body produces antibodies against the irritant, inducing an allergic reaction. Symptoms normally occur within two hours of an allergen being consumed, they include:

  • hives, swelling, eczema, itchy bumps
  • wheezing, vomiting or bloody diarrhea
In rare cases allergens can cause a life threatening anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylactic shock affects multiple body systems and is characterized by swelling, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramps and circulatory collapse. Approximately 1-2 per cent of Canadians are at risk from this sever reaction.

What Can You Do?

Avoid the food item you suspect is causing problems, or, if you're unsure, start eliminating one of the nine common allergens one-by-one, for a minimum of two weeks. Be sure to pay close attention to food labels and, if they are old enough, teach your child what to look out for.

In Canada, 90 per cent of the most common allergens are contained in the list above, so cutting out milk or eggs from your child's diet is a great place to start. The chance of your child being allergic to all the items on the list is very small. I also recommend going to see an allergist who can help with specific testing using the skin-prick method.

If you're worried your child is allergic to dairy always check for these items on product labels:

  • whey, casein, caseinate, butter flavouring, lactic acid, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin, curds, natural or artificial flavours and sodium caseinate
  • always research: tofu, baked goods, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, fried foods, seasonings and soup mixes
Karla Heintz (BSc) is a nutrition educator, consultant, speaker and national author of 'Picky? Not Me, Mom! A parents' guide to children's nutrition.' She has worked with families for over 10 years on uncovering ways to make all households healthier and achieve personal health goals.

If you have a questions you would like answered please leave it in the comments below.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.