And even once you understand that your children have a food allergy, it can be hard to avoid the foods that they are allergic to, as many foods that cause allergies, like milk, eggs, and peanuts, are hidden ingredients in other foods.
What foods most commonly cause allergies?Although you can be allergic to almost any food, most food allergies are caused by milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.
In fact, 90% of children with a food allergy are going to be allergic to one of these allergy foods.
Why is my child allergic to everything?While it is certainly possible to have an allergy to more than one food, if your doctor has said that your child is 'allergic to everything', then you might get a second opinion from a Pediatric Allergist.
As more parents learn about food allergies, they often ask their doctors to do allergy testing. Unfortunately, although easy to do, these food allergy tests are often difficult to interpret. With the RAST tests, which are done on a blood sample, instead of a simple yes or no answer, the results show IgE antibody levels, which many people have in low levels even without an allergy. Typically, only high or very high IgE levels are thought to cause real allergic reactions though.
Even with skin testing, a positive result only suggests that the person is allergic to the food. For example, if you test positive for allergies to milk and peanut butter, but have never had an allergic reaction or any typical allergy symptoms, then you may not really be allergic to those foods.
When can my kids have allergy tests?Allergy testing can be done at almost any age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 'age is no barrier to skin testing; positive results can be obtained at any age.' It is thought that skin testing is not as accurate in children under age 12 months though.
Blood allergy tests can also be done in younger children, but they can require a large sample of blood, so you might just ask your doctor to test your child for the things that you are most worried about.
Remember that not all children need allergy testing though. You might try simple avoidance of common things that trigger allergies first.
Can food allergies be prevented?By avoiding high risk foods, it was once though that it was possible to prevent food allergies from ever developing. To prevent high risk children from developing food allergies, such as those who already have food allergies, eczema, hay fever or asthma, or family members with these problems, parents were told to avoid eggs until 2 years of age and avoid peanuts, tree nuts, and fish until 3 years of age.
That advice has changed now though.
Instead of of delaying any foods, it is now only recommended that these children be breastfed exclusively for at least four months, start solid foods after four to six months, and consider using a hypoallergenic baby formula if not breastfeeding.