Food allergy or non-allergic food hypersensitivity?

Food allergies and non-allergic food hypersensitivities in babies and young children can present a real challenge. Until a diagnosis is reached, the process for parents, children and healthcare professionals can be a long and painful one.


Non-allergic food hypersensitivities, such as intolerances, arise because the body is unable to digest or reacts to certain naturally occurring component of foods, i.e., lactose or fructose, or, less commonly, food coloring, additives or preservatives. Non-allergic food hypersensitivities do not involve the immune system and are much more common than food allergies.


Food allergies arise due to the body’s immune system reacting to certain, normally harmless, allergy-triggering substances (allergens) in food. These allergens are almost always proteins. Proteins are one of the essential nutrients that make up the body, together with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fat. Other components in food, such as lactose and sugar, do not act as allergens.


Certain allergens cause more reactions than others. Here are the top eight allergens accounting for approximately 90 percent of all allergic reactions to food in children. 

The prevalence of food allergies, especially in the first years of life, has increased dramatically in the last 10 years or so. The challenge to find better ways to prevent and manage food allergies is a pressing one.

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Most children outgrow CMPA at 3 years

45 to 50% of children outgrow CMPA at 1 year, 60 to 75% at 2 years and 85 to 90% at 3 years.


Source: Koletzko S et al. Diagnostic approach and management of cow's-milk protein allergy in infants and children: ESPGHAN GI Committee practical guidelines. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012;55(2):221-9.

CMPA peaks in the first year of life, occurring in up to 3% of infants.

It falls to less than 1% in children 6 years of age and older.


Source: Koletzko S et al. Diagnostic approach and management of cow's-milk protein allergy in infants and children: ESPGHAN GI Committee practical guidelines. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012;55(2):221-9.

In rare cases breast-fed babies can develop the symptoms of CMPA. In such cases it may suffice for breast-feeding mothers to abstain from dairy products.


Source: Prescott SLet al. A global survey of changing patterns of food allergy burden in children. World Allergy Orgen J. 2013: 6(1): 21.

Food allergies are on the rise with a large increase seen in the last 10 years. Food allergy in babies has reached 10% in some industrialized regions.


Source: Vandenplas Y et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of cow’s milk protein allergy in infants. Arch Dis Child. 2007 Oct: 92 (10): 902-908.

Breastfeed to Start

BREASTFEED TO START

For approximately the first six months of your baby’s life exclusive breastfeeding is recommended. If for any reason you no longer breastfeed your baby and your baby has been diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy, you will be directed by your pediatrician to use a special hypoallergenic formula.

Introducing Solid Food

INTRODUCING SOLID FOOD

The key to starting your baby on solid food, at around 6 months of age, is to introduce one food at a time. In this way if there is an allergic reaction, it’s easier to find out which food is responsible.

Introduce New Meals Carefully

INTRODUCE NEW MEALS CAREFULLY

As you start introducing solid food, the midday meal should be introduced first, followed by the evening meal and finally the afternoon meal. On the first day, give your baby one to three spoonfuls of purée, increasing the amount every day, until at the end of the week you are giving your child a whole portion.