HOW TO TREAT BABY FOOD ALLERGY?
Food allergies are a very common concern among parents. In recent polls, up
to 25 percent of parents felt that their children suffered from food allergies.
However, when their children were tested only around 5 percent of them were
proven to have true food allergies. Why is there this great discrepancy between
parental perceptions and actual facts?
For starters, it's easy to blame every rash or hive on a food allergy. And
while a food allergy can cause these symptoms, skin reactions are very common
in children and can be triggered by a variety of other causes, such as viral
infections, harsh soaps, medication, and topical irritants. Only careful testing
can accurately isolate the true cause of the reaction.
Other common symptoms of food sensitivity can include abdominal pain, nausea
and diarrhea. But again, other causes may also be the culprit. A viral infection
of the gastrointestinal tract can frequently cause the above symptoms and actually
damage the intestines to the point where a two to four week recovery period
is needed for complete healing. In this case, a child may have difficulty digesting
certain foods, such as milk, until the intestine is fully healed. Additionally,
lactose intolerance, a condition where the body lacks a enzyme needed to properly
digest milk products, can also cause these same symptoms.
Finally, nasal congestion, cough and wheeze can occasionally be caused by food
allergies, however many other exposures-such as contact with ragweed or pollen-can
also result in these same symptoms.
The key to identifying a true food allergy is testing. Three different types
of allergy tests are available to accurately identify the food (if any) responsible
for the reactions. Skin tests have been used for more than 80 years to pinpoint
allergy triggers. These tests are performed by introducing a minute quantity
of purified food extract under the skin and observing the reaction after twenty
minutes. This test is felt to be 80 to 95 percent accurate.
More recently, a blood test called Radioallergosorbent (RAST) has been used
as an alternative to skin testing. The advantage of RAST is that it requires
only one to two vials of blood through one needle stick, rather than the 20
or more scratches used in skin testing. The disadvantage is that it is only
80 percent (at best) accurate in its results.
The "gold standard" for testing is a double-blind food challenge.
In this test, the patient eats a capsule containing a small quantity of concentrated
food without knowing what food is being eaten. If the patient develops the same
reaction after two to three challenges with the same food then it is considered
a true positive reaction.
Once the offending food is identified, the only acceptable treatment is total
avoidance of the food. No other treatment will effectively prevent reactions.
Antihistamines can be helpful to relieve symptoms, however, as they wear off
the symptoms will frequently return. If the responsible food is avoided for
six months to two or more years, then your child will likely be able to tolerate
the food when it's repeatedly reintroduced. (by Michael G. Marcus, M.D.
- BABY.TopResource.NET Reference)