Food Allergy | Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a food allergy?

Allergic symptoms may begin anywhere between a few minutes to an hour after your child ingests the food to which he or she is allergic. Each child may experience symptoms differently, but the most common include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • hives
  • swelling
  • eczema
  • itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth
  • itching or tightness in the throat
  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • lowered blood pressure

The symptoms can be different for milk and soy allergies, often seen in infants and young children and may include:

  • colic
  • blood in your child’s stool
  • poor growth

Your child’s physician may change your baby’s formula to a soy formula or breast milk if it is thought that he or she is allergic to milk; if your baby has problems with soy formula, your child’s physician may suggest a hypoallergenic formula.

Many children do “outgrow” their allergies, but allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish may be life-long.

What causes a food allergy?

The development of food allergies occurs when the body's immune system identifies something your child has eaten as harmful, triggering an allergic reaction. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infections disease, even a small amount of the food can cause a severe reaction in a highly allergic child. 

Food allergies cannot be prevented, but they can often be delayed by following these recommendations:

  • If possible, breastfeed your infant for the first six months
  • Do not give your child solid foods until he or she is six months of age or older
  • Avoid feeding your child cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts and fish during the first year of your child’s life.