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Preventive Care
Children's Health

Food Allergies in Children

15 November 2023 · 4 mins read


Find out how to manage food allergy in children and when to see a doctor.

What are food allergies?

An abnormal response of the body to a particular food is known as a food allergy. It is essential to understand that food allergy is not the same as food intolerance, which does not affect the immune system but may exhibit some of the same symptoms.

A food allergy happens when the immune system responds to a type of food which is typically harmless. Food intolerance happens when the body has a chemical reaction to eating a specific food or drink.

What are the symptoms of food allergies in children?

Symptoms of food allergies in children may include the following:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Eczema
  • Swelling
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Wheezing

Depending on its severity and type, an allergic reaction can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. It could disappear naturally in as little as a few hours or even last several days. Even with the right treatment, some allergic reactions can last up to four weeks.

What are the common food allergens?

Some of the common foods which can cause allergies in some children are:

  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Milk

How is food allergy in children diagnosed?

The doctor will ask about the following if your child may have a food allergy.

  • Duration of time between eating a particular food.
  • Symptoms exhibited in your child.
  • Whether any family members suffer from allergies, asthma, or eczema.

How is food allergy in children treated?

There is no medication to prevent food allergies. The best course of action is to avoid the foods that cause symptoms.

After your child's doctor has determined that they are allergic to certain foods, it is important that they avoid those foods and any others in the same food group.

It is likewise essential to give nutrients and minerals to your children to supplement their diet if their allergies result in them not easily having a balanced diet.

How to reduce the risk of food allergies in children?

  • Breastfeed your child for at least 6 months.
  • Have a balanced and nutritious diet while pregnant.
  • Avoid foods that are fried because the same oil may be used to fry multiple foods.
  • Monitor when introducing new food to children.
  • Offer foods with only one ingredient and no salt or sugar. To monitor if your baby experiences a reaction such as diarrhoea, rash, or vomiting, wait three to five days between each new food.
About 80% of people who have allergies to wheat, milk, and eggs get over them by age 16. About 20% to 25% of children who have peanut allergies outgrow them, and about 80% of those who do outgrow them do so by 8 years old. Sensitivity to tree nuts, fish and shellfish might be harder to outgrow and are usually lifelong.


How to manage food allergies in children?

  • Avoid the food: During the first year of your child's life, avoid fish, wheat, eggs, peanuts, and cow's milk.
  • Understand food labels: Always read food labels and contact the manufacturer if you are unsure of an ingredient.
  • Be careful when eating out: Dining out can be difficult for your child if they have one or more food allergies. Nevertheless, eating out can be a healthy and enjoyable experience. However, it takes a little planning and persistence on your part.
  • Have an action plan: An allergen action plan is a document that recommends a course of treatment in the event of an allergic reaction when dealing with people who have allergies.
  • Learn how to use an EpiPen: An injection of epinephrine is a treatment for severe allergic reactions and sudden asthma attacks. It works to lessen the effects of an allergic reaction. In most cases, you will receive this injection from a doctor in a clinic or hospital.
  • Inform carers and teachers about the allergy: At the time of enrolment, let the school or childcare provider know that your child has a food allergy.
  • Teach your child which foods to avoid: Be a role model when trying to teach your child healthy eating habits. Choose nutritious snacks and do not skip meals or replace mealtimes with snacks.

Book an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

A dedicated and expert team of specialists at Pantai Hospitals is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance to patients through screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

If you are unsure if your child has a food allergy, get in touch with us to book an appointment with a Paediatrician for a consultation at your nearest Pantai Hospital.

If your child is experiencing severe allergic reactions, call for an ambulance immediately or head straight to the nearest Pantai Hospitals Accident and Emergency (A&E).

Pantai Hospitals have been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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