More Pediatric Patients Experiencing Food Allergies

UNC-Chapel Hill Graduation 2011 - In PicturesIllnesses are common in children, and although there are many vaccines to prevent a lot of common childhood diseases, there are still no surefire ways to prevent some allergic reactions. There has been a 20% increase in the number of food allergies seen in children since 1997 and over 9,500 children are hospitalized each year because of it. Doctors of pediatric medicine are always looking for new and improved ways to treat this sometimes deadly occurrance.

Food allergies can cause anything from mild irritation of the skin and/or digestive tract to full blown anaphylaxis. Food allergies can strike without warning and can be fatal even after just one incidence of the child consuming the food that causes the particular reaction. Along with medications used to treat allergies after they are experienced, prevention and avoidance are key. Although not all food allergies can be determined and avoided, as with first time severe reactions, those that are known can be avoided to lessen and eliminate the reaction and subsequent ill effects.

Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but there are some foods in which food allergies are more common. Nuts, fish, shellfish, milk and eggs are among the foods that are most commonly associated with food allergies in children. Children with asthma and a food allergy are more at risk of more serious reactions. Anaphylaxis is more commonly seen in children who have both asthma and food allergies.

Parents must be educated on their child’s allergy. They must be vigilant in reading labels to avoid allergens which may not be obvious. Parents must ensure the safety of their child and know the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. Children with known allergies are prescribed medications such as epinephrine in case of emergencies and parents must be educated on how and when to use the medication in the event that an allergic reaction should occur.

Food allergies can not always be avoided, but there are many ways in which parents and children can avoid the unpleasant experiences and reactions that occur. Proper medication, education and vigilance will go a long way in making sure children remain safe and healthy.