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Courtesy of
Parentmedic NQ

Parents have concerns about allergies when their baby is introduced to new foods, but remember allergies can also be caused by medication, dust, pollen and insects, just to name a few. Some allergies are severe and can cause anaphylaxis, which is life threatening.

Here are few tips to help you along the way when introducing food to your baby.

Offer your baby food that is the right texture for their developmental stage.

To help prevent food allergy, give your baby the common allergy causing foods before they turn one. Solid foods should not be introduced before four months of age. Some examples are as follows:

  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Peanut
  • Cow’s milk
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Shellfish
  • Sesame

Children under five years of age should only be given peanuts or tree nuts as a smooth nut butter or paste or as nuts ground up to be a powder or flour. You can mix a small amount of the common allergy causing food with fruit or vegetable puree or iron-fortified baby cereal. It is important to keep feeding your baby the allergy causing foods once you have introduced them.

Allergic reactions usually occur quickly – within minutes but can sometimes take up to two hours. Some common reactions in babies are:

  • Swelling of lips, face, eyes
  • Hives or welts anywhere on the body
  • Stomach pain or vomiting

If your baby has an allergic reaction, stop giving that food and seek medical advice. If your baby is showing signs of a mild to moderate allergic reaction:

  • Stay with your baby and watch to see if there are any signs of anaphylaxis
  • Discuss the use of a non-drowsy antihistamine for children under one with your doctor

Everyone has an immune system and its how the body fights off things that try to harm it. But sometimes the immune systems get confused and react to harmless things like food and that’s how food allergies happen. An allergic reaction is the body trying to protect itself. Babies are exposed to a food for the first time when they eat it. Other times they might be exposed is through the environment. For example, if a baby or young child has eczema, their skin barrier is not strong enough and substances including food proteins get through their skin. They are still not sure why allergies occur, but there is a lot of research being done to try and find out.

Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction and is potentially life threatening. It usually occurs rapidly after exposure to a food, insect or medicine, to which a person may already be allergic. Anaphylaxis must always be treated as a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment with adrenaline.

Signs of anaphylaxis are:

  • Difficult or noisy breathing
  • Swelling of tongue
  • Swelling or tightness in throat
  • Difficulty breathing, talking or hoarse voice
  • Wheeze or persistent cough
  • Persistent dizziness or collapse
  • Pale and floppy (babies and young children)

What to do for anaphylaxis:

  • Lay your baby flat in your arms. Do not hold them upright and do not

allow them to stand or walk

  • If unconscious, place in recovery position
  • Give EpiPen
  • Phone ambulance – 000
  • Further EpiPen may be given if no response after five minutes

If this is the first time, monitor your child while you wait for the ambulance to arrive. Paramedics will administer adrenaline on arrival.

Commence CPR at any time if your child is unresponsive and not breathing normally.

*For more information on food allergies and anaphylaxis, head over to preventallergies.org.au or www.allergy.org.au

The information provided by Parentmedic North Qld is for general informational and educational purposes only. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. The use or reliance of any information is solely at your own risk.

Loretta Woodford is passionate about educating parents and carers to be confident in an emergency through her Baby/Child First Aid sessions. She is a Registered Nurse with a Master in Nursing (Education) and the Owner of Parentmedic North Qld

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