Foods Children Are Commonly Allergic To

Nut allergy packaging warning
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Although you can be allergic to almost any food, 90% of children with a food allergy are going to be allergic to one of these 'allergy foods:'

  • Cow's milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans (soy milk, tofu, etc.)
  • Wheat
  • Tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios, etc.)
  • Fish (cod, salmon, tuna, etc.) and shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster)

Fruits, vegetables, and seeds are less common causes of food allergies.

Some other foods can cause reactions for kids with seasonal allergies. For example, kids with allergies to birch pollen can also have allergy symptoms when they eat an apple, carrot, potato, celery, hazelnuts, or kiwi. Others have symptoms when they eat bananas, watermelon, or cantaloupe if they are allergic to ragweed. These cross-reactions are called oral allergy syndrome.​

Hidden Ingredients

If your child is allergic to milk, it is easy to know to avoid drinking cow's milk, but it is harder to avoid things that might have milk as a 'hidden' ingredient. These other foods might contain milk, but might only list the actual milk proteins, such as whey or casein, as an ingredient, making it much harder to know to avoid them.

New food labeling rules make it easier to identify foods that your child might be allergic to, as they will either be clearly listed among the ingredients or will identify after the ingredients list with the word 'Contains.'

Oils vs. Proteins

In general, children are allergic to the proteins in foods and not the oils. For example, refined peanut oil and refined soybean oil does not usually trigger an allergic reaction in children who are allergic to peanuts and soybeans.

However, cold pressed, expelled, or extruded oils can sometimes trigger allergies, and should usually be avoided.

What You Need To Know

  • Many children outgrow milk and egg allergies.
  • It is much less common to outgrow allergies to other allergy foods, especially allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, or seafood.
  • Children who are allergic to one tree nut, like walnuts, should usually avoid them all since many kids are allergic to more than one tree nut.
  • Children who are allergic to tree nuts can usually eat peanuts and peanut butter, although there is a chance that they will be allergic to both.
  • In addition to avoiding the food, see your pediatrician if your child develops any symptoms of food allergies after eating a particular food. A pediatric allergist can be helpful if your child has a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or seems to have multiple food allergies.
  • Get a prescription for an EpiPen or EpiPen JR if your child has severe allergy symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, learn how to use it, and make sure you have it with your child at all times in case of an emergency.
  • Food additives and preservatives, such as sulfites, MSG, and aspartame, probably don't cause food allergies.

Keep in mind that it is no longer recommended that high-risk infants and toddlers need to delay allergy foods to try and prevent food allergies.

Adkinson: Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice, 7th ed.

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