Schneck Medical Center

SUM 2015

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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2 1 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S U M M E R 2 015 S P I R I T O F W O M E N SHUTTERSTOCK the potential for an allergy, according to Dr. Davis. Either test measures the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, made by your body when you come into contact with a specific food, according to Pamela Georgeson, D.O., a Michigan-based member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. If the test isn't conclusive, your allergist may conduct an oral food challenge, giving your child small amounts of the suspect food and gradually increasing the amount over time, while monitoring his or her reaction. This should be done only in a facility with medications and equipment available in case of a reaction, according to FARE. If the allergy tests are negative, your child may still have an intolerance to a specific food, which isn't life threatening, according to Dr. Davis. But whether the verdict is an allergy or an intolerance, you'll want to ask about recognizing the signs of a reaction, food avoidance strategies and medications for emergency use, say the experts. Will your child eventually outgrow his or her allergies? That depends on what your child is allergic to, according to Dr. Davis. "Milk, egg, soy and wheat are likely to be outgrown in childhood," she says. "Peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and [fin] fish are unlikely to be outgrown." • BRINGING UP BABY In some cases, food allergies can be spotted as early as infancy, according to pediatrician Meghan Fels, D.O., affiliated with North Colorado Medical Center, Greeley, Colo. You may notice your child has an increase in spit-up, vomiting, recurrent hives or poor weight gain, she says. "If you're a parent and you're seeing this [symptoms], talk to your child's pediatrician about possible interactions with food allergens," says Dr. Fels. Your physician may direct you to change your baby's diet to see if it helps, she says. But if your baby hasn't had a bad reaction to any foods, don't be reluctant to introduce solids into his diet in an orderly fashion. "I recommend trying new foods as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics []. Introduce one food at a time and then wait three or four days, up to a week to monitor reactions to new foods," suggests Dr. Fels. Although recent research results in the Learning Early About Peanut allergy (LEAP) study suggest that including peanuts in the diet up to age 5 may help head off peanut allergies, experts say the final verdict isn't in yet; always check with your medical practitioner before trying a new approach like this. SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR Once your child begins eating a variety of foods, you may start seeing reactions even if infancy was uneventful. About 90 percent of allergic reactions are caused by consuming eggs, milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, finfish or shellfish, according to the FDA. Hives may be the first sign of an allergic reaction, say the experts. After that, more severe reactions could occur, including coughing, upper airway swelling, wheezing, blue skin and/or vomiting, according to Dr. Carla M. Davis, a Texas-based member of the Medical Advisory Board of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). If any of these symptoms occur, don't serve your child the suspected food again and don't diagnose the problem yourself. Instead, see a food allergy specialist, recommends Dr. Davis. "If your child has those symptoms, it's a possibility that the next reaction [to the allergen] could be life-threatening. Evaluation should be done through an allergist," she says. PINPOINTING THE PROBLEM The first thing you'll need to tell the allergist is what foods your child has eaten and the reactions they provoked. Then, having a blood or skin test helps determine TIPS 1. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, get professional advice as soon as possible so both you and your child can learn what to do, according to Meghan Fels, D.O., a pediatrician with North Colorado Medical Center, Greeley, Colo. For example, you may want to look for a class on how to talk to daycare instructors about your child's allergy, she says, or review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for managing food allergies in schools and early care centers. To access the guidelines, visit the CDC website at: 2. Teach your child how to read food labels. For information on reading and understanding allergen ingredient labeling for processed foods, visit the FDA website at: Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm. 3. Consult a mental health professional if your child becomes overly anxious about his or her food allergy. "Anxiety is more common in children with food allergies than in normal children," says Dr. Carla M. Davis, a Texas-based member of the Medical Advisory Board of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), which offers a variety of resources for parents at T 3 for helping your child manage food allergies

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