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Common Complementary Food Allergen to Watch Out For

Common Complementary Food Allergen to Watch Out For

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Your baby is 6 months old and you have decided to start the process of complementary feeding. You have read up on your growing baby’s nutritional requirements the kinds of foods that he or she needs. You are all set to begin a new chapter in your baby’s life.

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

You have a variety of options to choose from as your baby’s first food – vegetables, fruits, cereals, pulses and nuts. However, before you decide, it is important for you to know about common food allergies.

What are food allergies?

Our immune system has evolved to protect us from infections and diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents. It protects us from these attacks and keeps us in good health by eliminating foreign invaders. An allergic reaction is caused when the immune system identifies a component of food as a foreign particle that must be eliminated.

Food allergies can produce severe, painful reactions that are difficult to manage. The only way to protect your infant is to avoid certain foods capable of causing an allergic reaction.

The most common food allergies encountered in India are listed below:

1. Wheat (or Gluten)

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Instead of using wheat to prepare complementary foods, you can opt for jowar, bajra, rice, or maize preparations instead.

2. Milk

If you are planning to introduce cow’s milk to your infant’s diet, keep in mind that babies may be allergic to it. The protein present in cow’s milk may cause an allergic reaction.

3. Egg

Eggs make great first foods for babies. However, both, the egg white as well as egg yolk, are capable of producing allergic reactions. Since eggs are used in the preparation of pastries, cookies, cakes, and chocolates, it is best to avoid these foods if your child is allergic to eggs.

4. Nuts

Nuts may be ground to a paste and used as complementary foods for babies. However, nuts can cause allergic reactions in some infants. Babies may be allergic to walnuts, cashews, pistachios, or peanuts.

5. Soya bean

Soya bean is another common allergen that should be avoided while preparing meals for complementary feeding.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Hives (red spots that look like mosquito bites)
  • Itchy skin rashes, often in the mouth or throat, though they can appear anywhere on the body
  • Watery eyes
  • Swelling of the lips or tongue
  • Sneezing
  •  Vomiting
  •  Diarrhoea

There’s no need to panic if your baby shows any of the above symptoms. Just call your paediatrician at the earliest and he/she will suggest appropriate measures.

Most infants outgrow allergies as they grow. However, some allergies may persist for longer, even life-long. You can always consult your paediatrician or nutritionist regarding the re-introduction of foods that once caused your child to develop allergic reactions. It is important to be cautious when introducing complementary food of different types to avoid allergies, especially when you have a fussy eater at home.

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