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Common Food Allergies

A food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food protein. These kinds of allergies occur when the body's immune system mistakenly identifies a protein as harmful. Some proteins or fragments of proteins are resistant to digestion and those that are not broken down in the digestive process are tagged by the Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These tags fool the immune system into thinking that the protein is an invader. The immune system, thinking the organism (the individual) is under attack, sends white blood cells to attack, and that triggers an allergic reaction.

A food allergy is a hypersensitive reaction to a normally harmless substance in food and is quite common in babies and children. Some children are more likely to have an allergic reaction triggered by a particular food. Those most at risk are babies and children from families with a history of allergies. By the time a child is 2 years old they would have more than likely grown out of their allergy. However other children will have a food allergy throughout their life.

Allergy Reactions

These reactions can range from mild to severe. Allergic responses include dermatitis, gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, including such life-threatening anaphylactic responses as biphasic anaphylaxis and vasodilatation; these require immediate emergency intervention. Individuals with protein allergies commonly avoid contact with the problematic protein. Some medications may prevent, minimize or treat protein allergy reactions. There is no cure.

Signs and Symptoms

Classic immunoglobulin-E (IgE)-mediated food allergies are classified as type-I immediate Hypersensitivity reaction. These allergic reactions have an acute onset (from seconds to one hour) and may include:

  • Hives
  • Itching of mouth, lips, tongue, throat, eyes, skin, or other areas
  • Swelling (angioedema) of lips, tongue, eyelids, or the whole face
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Hoarse voice
  • Wheezing and/or shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and/or stomach cramps
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Death

Symptoms of allergies vary from person to person. The amount of food needed to trigger a reaction also varies from person to person

Common Food Allergies

Below is a list of most common food allergies found in babies and children. In addition to these you should be careful with sesame seeds and products made from them, soya products and fish (especially shell fish). Please remember that this is to be used as a general guide only and if you have any concerns, please consult your doctor.

Peanuts and other nuts

Reaction Caused:

  • Anaphylactic shock (causing breathing difficulty and throat to swell)


  • Peanuts
  • Peanut Butter
  • Unrefined Peanut Oil


Reaction Caused:

  • Tummy aches
  • Diarrhoea
  • Anaphylactic Shock


  • Cow's milk
  • Cheese
  • Butter


Reaction Caused:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Tummy aches
  • Weight loss
  • Damaging of intestine lining
  • Anaphylactic Shock


  • Wheat
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cakes
  • Flour
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats


Reaction Caused:

  • Rashes
  • Eczema
  • Skin swellings
  • Tummy ache
  • Anaphylactic Shock


  • Eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Cakes
  • Breads (contain egg)
  • Cake (contain egg)


Reaction Caused:

  • Rash
  • Eczema
  • Anaphylactic Shock


  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Tomato pasta sauce

Citrus fruit and strawberries

Reaction Caused:

  • Rash
  • Eczema
  • Anaphylactic Shock


  • Fresh oranges
  • Orange lollies
  • Fruit yogurts
  • Squash

If you think your child is reacting to a certain food - with pain, diarrhoea, rashes or vomiting after eating – even though you may have no family history of allergies, trust your instincts and go straight to the hospital.

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