Allergies can be a very scary thing to deal with in life, especially in young children. Parents are always having to check labels and wondering if the people nearby washed their hands or not after eating. One of the scariest things to witness is a baby being covered in hives, vomiting, or losing their ability to breathe. It truly is a parent's worst nightmare.
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to babies and allergies. For instance, some people will assume that as long as a child has an epi-pen that it doesn’t matter if they are exposed to their allergen. There are even some people out there who mock people with allergies and don’t take it seriously, but it is no laughing matter, and it really could be life or death for a lot of people. The best way to keep these babies safe is to advocate for them and educate those who don’t understand it. So in this article, we are going to discuss ten things about babies with allergies that not everyone might know.
10 Early Exposure
A common misconception about babies and allergies is that the earlier that you expose them to the top 12 allergens, the less likely they are to become allergic to those foods. This is not always the case at all. There have been plenty of instances where babies under the age of one have ended up in the hospital suffering from a severe allergic reaction after consuming something for the first time.
Some babies can even react to something that their mother ate before breastfeeding. Early exposure does not mean they won't become allergic to something, but it also does not mean that you should avoid certain foods altogether. Always do what you, as a parent, feel most comfortable with.
9 Symptoms Vary
The way that an allergic reaction can present itself varies between each child and each allergen. The most common symptoms to watch for are hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, coughing, runny nose, nausea, and vomiting.
If you do notice that your child is having difficulty breathing at all, you should always call for an ambulance. If you have an epi-pen on hand, be sure to administer it right away as it could be the difference between life and death. However, if your child is only presenting with hives and itching, Benadryl might be the way to go.
8 Allergy Testing
If your baby does suffer from an allergic reaction, no matter how severe and especially if it continues to happen, a call to a pediatric allergist would probably be a good idea.
Your little one might still be too small for skin testing, but the allergist would be able to order some blood work that will tell you exactly what your child is allergic to so that you can start avoiding that food altogether, just to be safe. Of course taking your baby for blood work can be scary. No one likes to see their little one take a needle, but it is necessary, and they definitely won't remember it.
7 Kissing And Touching
Something that a lot of people may not be aware of, but that everyone should be cautious of is kissing and touching a baby who is known to have food allergies. If a baby has a bad enough allergy, and someone who consumed their allergen touches them or kisses them, it could end up in a dire situation.
The baby could end up in anaphylaxis, a hazardous reaction where they could lose their ability to breathe. If you are going to be touching a baby with food allergies, be sure to wash your hands to the best of your ability, and brush your teeth thoroughly if you have consumed their allergen.
6 The Top 12 Allergens
The top 12 allergens, meaning the most common food allergies that children end up with are milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, corn, sesame, mustard, celery, and artificial colors. The most common and typically the most serious being peanuts.
Although these are the most common food allergies out there, they are not the only ones. People can be allergic to literally anything. Still, the likelihood that your baby could have an allergy to one of these if they are experiencing allergic reactions is probably higher than some of the other foods out there.
5 Daycare Centers
Sometimes moms need to go back to work pretty early on, while their baby goes off to daycare during the day. There is nothing wrong with this at all. However, it can be nerve-wracking for a mom whose baby has a food allergy. Some allergies can be so severe that just being touched by someone who ate your allergen or touching something that they touched, can cause a serious reaction.
Ideally, parents would like to know that their children aren’t going to come into contact with their allergen, but this simply isn’t realistic 100% of the time. It is because of this that it is imperative to make sure that daycare employees are aware of your child’s allergies and that they have a plan in place in the case of an emergency.
4 The Life Saving Epi-Pen
If your baby is determined by a doctor to have a life-threatening allergy, they will be prescribed an epi-pen. Epi-pens are a life-saving medication that can be scary to administer in the event of anaphylaxis. However, there are some widespread misconceptions surrounding the epi-pen.
Some people assume that once you administer epi that you’re in the clear, and the child will be fine. This could not be farther from the truth. The moment that epi is administered, an ambulance needs to be called for immediate hospital transport. This is because the epi-pen really only gets you about 10-20 minutes before more medical intervention is needed, and often in the case of anaphylaxis, more than one shot of epi will be needed but, it should buy you enough time until an ambulance arrives.
3 Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Early on in infancy, you may notice your baby exhibiting some not so pleasant symptoms. These may include gas, hiccups, excessive spitting up, unusual bowel movements, a rash, or that they simply aren’t putting on enough weight. These can all be signs that your baby might be suffering from a milk allergy.
Hearing that your baby has an allergy to milk can be really confusing at first, because that’s what babies live off of for their first six months of life. However, your doctor will go over alternative options and tell you what is safe for your baby to have and what’s not. After being put on the correct formula, you should begin to notice that your baby's symptoms are improving, and they should start putting on some weight.
2 Breastfeeding And Exposure
Unfortunately, it can be hard to pinpoint what’s causing an allergic reaction without the proper testing, especially in babies. If you are breastfeeding, then you might assume that your child is just reacting to the milk itself. However, this is not always the case.
For example, a baby could have never tasted a peanut a day in their life, but if their mother consumed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch that day, then the baby can be exposed through breast milk. Sure, this sounds scary, but we wouldn’t suggest that you avoid eating certain foods while breastfeeding unless you already know that your baby is allergic to it.
1 Outgrowing Their Allergies
Allergies are scary, especially in young children; however, just because your baby is allergic to something right now, does not mean that they will be allergic to it forever. So, there is some hope that things will get easier for them.
Through regular testing with your child’s allergist, you will be able to monitor their allergies. Eventually, if their numbers go down enough, the allergist might recommend something called a food challenge. This is where your child will eat the food that they were known to be allergic to under the supervision of their allergist. If an hour goes past and they don’t have a reaction, then they are safe to start adding it into their daily diet.