Food Allergies and Children
Investigating the Reactions and Health Issues

Food allergies and children are unfortunately too often are paired together and the incidence is increasing each year.
Could your child’s reaction to food be causing her diarrhea? What about constipation? Diaper rash? Eczema? Behavior issues? Seasonal Allergies? Asthma? ADD/ADHD?

Yes, Yes and Yes!

Reactions to food, either sensitivities or allergies can cause a variety of different symptoms and can be the underlying cause of many health issues.

Let’s start by explaining how a food can cause an immune reaction, and how this delayed reaction is different than the immediate reaction we most normally link to “allergies” There are different parts of the immune system which react differently – for this discussion we are going to be speaking about the IgE and the IgG reactions. The IgE reaction is what we most commonly think of when we hear the word allergy – this is the immediate throat swelling, eye watering, hive producing reaction of the immune system. This is the part of the immune system which is most commonly tested for with the “skin-prick” test and what is most commonly linked to environmental and seasonal allergies, or severe allergies such as to peanuts or shellfish.

On the other hand we have the IgG reactions which are delayed in nature and are most commonly linked to food sensitivities. These reactions can be delayed from 24-72 hours and therefore are difficult to identify. Think about it…if your child eats a slice of cheese at breakfast and then develops a skin rash the next day, what is our first thought “what did she just eat that triggered this reaction?” we do not often look for the trigger to be from the previous day.

How can you determine what foods your body is reacting to? Well there are several methods we can use, some take more time and guess work than others. First of all we can eliminate all “common” allergens for 6-8 weeks, called a modified elimination diet. After all reactions have subsided we then start a rotational diet to re-introduce foods and watch for reactions, very similar to when you first introduced foods to your baby, following the 4-day-wait-rule . This will take time, and there is no guarantee that the foods we eliminated are in-fact the culprits, hence the guess work.

The other method is a blood panel to test for the level of IgG immunoglobulins in the blood and therefore we can determine, confidently, which foods your child are reacting to. We then eliminate those foods from the diet and start a treatment plan to repair the GI and immune systems before we start a rotational diet, usually 6-12 weeks.

So what is the link between food allergies and children and why do so many people, especially kids, have food reactions these days? Frankly we seem to be in a food allergy epidemic. Well, I hear this question all the time and there is not one simple answer, but we can talk about some of the causes and how we can address them. One reason when foods are introduced too early, before the baby’s GI system is ready to digest and absorb these micronutrients. Another reason is due to "gut dysbiosis" or an unbalanced ratio of "good" bacteria to "bad" bacteria in the GI tract. Dysbiosis can develop when the child is given rounds of antibiotics without being given probiotics (during and up to 6 weeks after), or can develop when the child is fed overly processed, highly sugary foods over a long period of time. The good thing about gut dysbiosis as the cause of a food sensitivity is that this situation can be reversed, and the sooner we identify the reason for the reaction, the sooner the child can decrease their health issues.

An Individual Look at Food Allergies and Children

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