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Food allergy is mainly a problem of infants, toddlers and young children. Over 90% of cases are associated with eczema (an intensely itchy, chronic skin rash) and there is usually a family history of allergic conditions, such as asthma, hayfever and eczema. In Australia the most common food allergies are egg, milk, peanut and tree nuts, soy, seafoods and wheat. Fortunately most children outgrow these allergies to food, although nut and seafood allergies can be life-long.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction to food can range from mild to severe. Mild reactions include facial hives, itchy mouth, swelling of the lips, eyes and ears and often there is vomiting or explosive diarrhoea. Severe reactions involve breathing problems, swelling of the throat and even collapse and loss of consciousness.
ALLERGY APPOINTMENT works in association with paediatric allergy specialist Dr Elizabeth Pickford www.paediatrix.com.au If you think your child might be allergic to food you should ask for a Skin Prick Test. This is a gentle procedure that can be done on small children from about 6 months of age. The standard panel tests for common foods and environmental allergens.
If your child has food allergy they should be assessed by the paediatrician to provided an Action Plan for accidental exposures. Ask the secretary to organise your appointment for skin prick testing, the paediatrician (requires a referral) and dietitian for dietary management. Our brochure has more details on our services.
The Dealing with Food Allergy DVD or CD-ROM comes with an accompanying booklet and is an excellent visual resource describing the impact that food allergy can have on the lives of children and their families. Leading experts explain the allergy phenomenon, discuss preventative measures and demonstrate the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions.
The Friendly Food recipe book from the allergy experts at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit is a guide to avoiding food allergens as well as other possible culprits like food additives and food chemicals as food allergy can co-exist with food intolerance, especially in young children.