What is Food Allergy?
Food Allergy affects children of all ages and can occur even in young babies.
Food Allergy describes a reaction when the immune system meets a normally harmless food, which has been “remembered” from before and results in a reaction that causes symptoms.
Getting an accurate diagnosis.
Allergy or intolerance testing should only be done by someone who’s trained and competent in working with childhood food allergy and intolerance. They should begin by taking a very detailed allergy focused history before deciding if a test is needed. Important questions to ask the person making a diagnosis of food allergy is “How and when will I find out if this allergy has resolved or not?”
To test or not to test….that is the question?
A very detailed allergy focused history is needed before any testing is done. Important questions to ask any person offering allergy or intolerance testing are:
What is the evidence that this test is valid for diagnosing food allergy or intolerance that my child might have?
What does the result of this test mean-is my child sensitised (a positive signal that allergy may be present), allergic or intolerant?
Applied kinesiology, hair analysis, York, Vega or IgG blood testing should never be used to diagnose or manage food allergy or intolerance.
Food allergy can cause symptoms involving some of all of the following:
- skin (itch, redness, hives, eczema, swelling around the lips, face and eye),
- gut (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, colicky pain, reflux, constipation),
- airway (cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness).
These symptoms can happen straight away (immediate) or up to 48 hours after (delayed) eating the food. It is very important to find out which kind (immediate or delayed) is present as the treatment and management vary accordingly.
Keeping a symptom diary is very useful: try to think when your child had symptoms, note the day, date and how long they lasted. What were the symptoms, what had they eaten that day, what were they doing? Try to record all these details so it’s easier to get a clear picture of what has happened. Take a photo on your phone if you can of any reaction that occurs.
The most common foods that cause allergic reactions in Irish children are milk & dairy, eggs, peanuts & other nuts, fish and shellfish. If you think that your child has had an allergic reaction to any of these foods it is important to have them assessed by a Doctor who is qualified to make a diagnosis of food allergy. Removing any food from a child’s diet is a major decision. When a food is removed – it has to be replaced with a suitable non allergic alternative that is nutritionally equal. There is a real risk to growth and development otherwise.
How do I have my child diagnosed?
If you suspect that Food Allergy may be the cause of your child’s symptoms it is important to start with your GP. You may need to be referred on to a Paediatric Consultant who has special training or a special interest in childhood allergy for example:
Antrim: Dr. Trevor Brown, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, Belfast. Tel: 028 9048 4511
Cork: Professor Jonathan Hourihane, Paediatric Allergist, University College Hospital. Tel: 021- 454 6400
Dublin: Dr. Aideen Byrne, Paediatric Allergist, Tallaght and Crumlin Hospitals.
Galway: Dr. Edina Moylett, University College Hospital. Tel: 091- 524222
Louth: Dr. John Fitzsimons, Paediatric Allergist, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.
Midlands: Dr. Imelda Lambert, Mullingar Regional Hospital. Tel: 044-9340221. Dr Paul Gallagher, Portlaoise Hospital. Tel: 057-8621364
NutriKids and Food Allergy
I appreciate the anxiety that allergy causes and the affect it has on everyone’s quality of life.
I am qualified in emergency allergy management and adrenaline pen training and can provide teaching to parents, preschools and schools. I have a Certificate of Advanced Study in Paediatric Allergy from Imperial College London. I am a member of the Irish Food Allergy Network and the International Network for Diet and Nutrition in Allergy (INDANA). I am qualified to assess and modify your child’s nutritional needs depending on the food allergy they have. I can safely take you through an elimination diet and rechallenge. I will ensure that nutritional status, growth and quality of life does not suffer because of food allergy.
I work according to evidence based best practice Irish guidelines to:
- provide clear education and information, adapted to the age, culture and values of the child and their caregivers.
- provide training to interpret ingredient lists on food labels and how to recognize incomplete labeling of ingredients.
- plan a family based allergen avoidance strategy.
- ensure that all dietary interventions are made according to the needs of the child.
- ensure nutritional adequacy and promote regular growth monitoring.
Please contact me to arrange a consultation.
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