About 6 in every 100 children have a food allergy. The most common foods causing allergies are nuts, eggs, seafood and cows milk.
A food allergy can happen when a person’s immune system reacts to a food allergen (which is always a protein). It can cause a person to have a reaction when they eat or touch the food allergen (a particular food).
Common signs of an allergic reaction
- Blocked or runny nose, sneezing, asthma, coughing or wheezing.
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face and/or throat, itching, redness or rashes.
- Stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or colic.
- Feeling faint, dizziness or collapse.
Symptoms can be mild or very severe. Food allergies occur in around 6% of children. Most children (80-90%) outgrow their allergies as they get older, although this can take many years for some children.
Most allergic reactions are caused by cows milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat and tree nuts. Tree nuts include almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.
Any baby may have an allergic reaction to food. However, babies born into families with allergies are more likely to have a food allergy than other children.
What you can do
Delaying the introduction of solid foods until your baby is ready and continuing to breastfeed while you introduce solids may help prevent allergic reactions to some foods. New foods should be introduced to your baby one at a time and only every few days to allow time to see whether they are allergic to that food.