If your child has just been diagnosed with a new food allergy, you have a long and sometimes difficult road ahead of you. The first few days helping your child adjust to the new diagnosis can be the most challenging. Here are a few things you need to do.
First, you should seek a second opinion, just to be sure that the allergy diagnosis is correct. There is always a possibility of a false positive, as your doctor should have told you. If your child’s doctor doesn’t ask for follow up tests, then you need to ask for them.
One way to do this follow up test is to have your child go on an elimination diet. If you eliminate the foods under doctor supervision and your child’s reactions stop, then you probably have an accurate diagnosis. You can also have an allergist confirm the results with repeat testing.
Once you are certain of the diagnosis, you are going to have to teach your child how to avoid trigger foods. This is challenging. If your child can read, teach her how to find the ingredients on labels and what to look for. If your child is too young to read, chances are you will be with her when she is presented with a new food, or a teacher or other adult will be. You must then learn to read labels. Remember, it is best to read the label every time you buy a food item, because ingredients can change.
Help your child find substitute food items for foods he loves that he can no longer have. This will help you with half of the battles that come with food allergies and giving up a loved food item.
If your child’s reaction is strong, you need to have an EpiPen handy at all times. If your child goes to school or daycare, make sure they have a current one and know how to use it. This will save your child’s life if there is a severe reaction. Keep antihistamines handy as well for more minor reactions.
Above all, make sure that anyone who cares for your child knows about the allergy and what to do if there is a reaction. Food allergies can be a life or death situation. It is your job as a parent to inform those who have responsibility for your child about the new food allergy.
If there is a history of food allergies in the family, can the single mom help her baby avoid the need of a special diet by introducing solid foods at an earlier age? The controversy goes on and parents trying to avoid special needs diets for their babies find that while studies indicate the timing of the introduction of cow’s milk and solid foods may signify the sensitivity to food allergens later, no one is coming forward with specific information.
Peanut allergies in children are growing at a fast rate, and no one seems to know why. A reaction to peanuts is one of the most dangerous of all of the food allergies, and parents of children with special needs diets often have a hard time finding products that won’t make their children ill. It’s advised that packaged foods that come from a facility that also processes peanut products be avoided completely. Peanuts are a popular additive in parent provided snacks at school, and the further risk of kids swapping tempting lunches when outside of the home makes it vital that even young children understand the risks involved and the necessity of strictly following the special needs diet.
Most experts agree that infants get the best nutrition if they are fed breast milk exclusively until they are six months old, but a new study suggests that food allergies, especially a peanut allergy, can be reduced if they are introduced to solid foods before four months of age.
Researchers are quick to point out that their results only suggest that the risk of later food allergies is reduced when solid food is introduced early. Christine Joseph of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit says that the study can’t prove cause and effect, even though it shows an association. While the study showed a difference in allergy to peanuts, no difference was shown is the risk of milk and egg allergies.
Studying 2 and 3 year old children whose parents had allergies, the researchers found that the kids were five times less likely to have peanut immune system antibodies that were directed at peanut proteins. If a child is sensitized to peanuts, they have an increased risk of developing an allergy.
Before 2008, the American academy of Pediatrics recommendation was that cow’s milk shouldn’t be given to kids before their first birthday to reduce the risk of allergy. They also advised that parents wait until their children turn two before they were given eggs, and that peanuts not be fed until the toddler was three. They have since found that there was no evidence to prove that these guidelines reduced the risk of food allergies.
If someone in your family has a food allergy, discuss the introduction of solid food with your pediatrician. Each special needs and potential special needs child is different. Your child’s doctor should have the most recent information on the continuing research about food allergies or be able to point you in the right direction to find the information you need to make your decision.
When kids have food allergies, the single mom spends a lot of her valuable time checking the nutrition and ingredient labels of the food before she purchases it. Sometimes products, especially pre-packaged prepared food that a mom would never dream could have an ingredient that could cause an allergic reaction in her child has been prepared in a surprising way.
In light of this, it is surprising to know that many people don’t pay attention to the statements on the warning label that explain what other foods are processed in the same facility as the one they are about to purchase.
It’s even more surprising to know that the labels on the food indicating a possible allergen contamination may not always be accurate.
Smaller processing plants often process a variety of foods and use the same equipment for each type. According to a study funded by the Food Allergy Initiative, the smaller food processing plants often do not have the same efficient cleaning methods of their larger counterparts. In fact, the chances of allergens in a food processed in a smaller plant are seven times higher than if they have been processed at a large facility. The Food Allergy Initiative is partially funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
If a food is not expected to have a certain ingredient in it, there aren’t any warning label requirements. However, when researchers studied a variety of products that are available on the store shelves, they found that 228 of 401 products chosen had warning labels. When the products were tested for contamination, it was found that there were traces of allergens in 5% of the food that had warning labels on the package. Traces of allergens were found in 2% of the foods without warning labels.
The allergens tested for were peanuts, eggs and milk, the most common food allergies in children.
When a child is diagnosed as having a food allergy, a guideline as to how much of the food is safe is usually not available. Read all food allergen warning labels. The best medical advice is to stay away from the allergen completely, and that means avoiding foods that have be processed in a facility that also processes a food that your child is allergic to.
The safest thing a single mom who has a child who has a food allergy can do is just leave the food with any type of an allergen warning label on the shelf.