Some children experience unpleasant reactions after eating certain foods. They may be sick, have diarrhoea, cough or wheeze or get an itchy rash such as eczema. They often outgrow these food sensitivities, however some foods may cause a reaction so severe that it is life threatening. Thankfully, this affects very few children. The foods most likely to cause a problem for small children are often the ones they first meet at weaning. So its sensible to avoid giving these foods until a baby is at least six months old.
In recent years, peanut allergy, although still uncommon, appears to be increasing among children. It is not yet known why. The children who face the highest risk are those whose parents or brothers/sisters suffer from allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema, hayfever or other allergic disease (known as atopy).
To reduce the risk of developing this life-threatening allergy:-
Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers who are atopic, or those for whom the father or any sibling of the baby has an allergy, may wish to avoid eating peanuts or peanut butter products during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Peanuts and foods containing peanuts such as peanut butter or unrefined or cold-pressed groundnut oil should not be given to infants from atopic or allergic families until they are at least three years old or to infants or children who are allergic to peanuts.
Refined peanut oil, vegetable oils and cosmetics or creams containing refined groundnut oil are all safe.
Read contents labels carefully. If you are in doubt avoid the product.
If you suspect that your child may be reacting to a food, always seek medical advice. Dont be tempted to experiment by cutting out a major food such as milk. Your childs diet may not provide all the necessary nutrients. Talk about your worries with your doctor and health visitor, who may refer you to a qualified dietician.
For advice you can contact the National Asthma Campaign Helpline (0845 7010203) or the British Allergy Foundation at Deepdene House, 30 Bellegrove Road, Welling, Kent DA16 3PY (020 8303 8525)