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Approximately, 5% of children under 3 years of age are allergic to one or more foods. The most common are milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, peanuts, and berries.
However, almost any dietary protein can cause an allergic reaction. Food allergies occur when the immune system, which helps protect us from infection by identifying and attacking the viruses and bacteria that cause disease, mistakenly responds to a food protein, causing inflammation and damage.
Maria Niella, president of Histasan, Madrid Association of Food Allergies (Spain), He tells us about the appearance of food allergies in children, about the foods that cause more allergies and about new treatments against this sensitization.
What are the food allergies that affect children the most?
First of all, it must be made clear that of the three basic nutrients, carbohydrates, fats and proteins, it is the latter that are responsible for food allergies. In Spain, the main causes of allergic reactions are milk, eggs and fish in childhood, and fruits, shellfish and nuts in adulthood.
Unfortunately, any animal or vegetable protein is susceptible to triggering allergic reactions. Recent studies have documented allergic reactions to carbohydrates, not just proteins.
When is a child allergic to any food? What are the symptoms?
The terms intolerance and allergy are often confused. In the case of intolerant people and celiac patients, we are talking about digestive diseases. In the case of food allergies, the culprit is the immune system, which responds abnormally to alleged aggressors (proteins).
The confusion usually occurs because among the symptoms of food allergies are gastrointestinal symptoms: pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea ... similar to those that occur in the case of intolerances, although there are others more specific such as ODS ( oral allergy syndrome) and angioedema. However, food allergy sufferers usually have other types of symptoms:
- Cutaneous: urticaria, eczema, AD (atopic dermatitis);
- Respiratory: rhinitis, congestion, asthma, bronchospasms and glottis edema.
- Anaphylactic shock: it is the most serious, although fortunately the least frequent. Anaphylactic shock produces a multisystemic failure with two or more of the symptoms already mentioned. In the most severe cases, there is a drop in blood pressure, arrhythmia, fainting and cardiorespiratory failure that compromises vital signs, becoming lethal.
In any case, only an allergist will give us the definitive diagnosis. Intolerances are chronic in nature, but are not life threatening, while allergies can be overcome but are life threatening.
What is food allergy treatment based on?
Regarding the treatment of food allergies, we can consider, on the one hand, the treatment of the symptoms (mild with antihistamines, corticosteroids and bronchodilators, and severe with injectable adrenaline) and, on the other, that of the causes. Proteins are responsible for food allergies and, today, the only way to prevent them is to strictly eliminate the foods that cause them.
Periodic reviews are carried out to evaluate tolerance levels and the evolution of the elimination diet (we eliminate the cause and the allergic memory that our body generates). In cases where it is considered that the allergy can be successful and can be 'overcome', provocation tests or controlled exposure are carried out (always in the hospital setting).
At present, the best results in this regard are occurring among those allergic to milk. Some vaccines are also being tested for specific foods, although the 'total vaccine' is still a long way off.
For more information:
- Madrid Association of Food AllergiesHISTASAN.
You can read more articles similar to Food allergies in children. Interview with María Niella, in the category of Allergies and intolerances on site.