How will I know if my child has a food allergy?

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Peanut allergy

Allergies to nuts, nut products and some seeds affect 1 to 2% of the population. Your child has a higher risk of developing a peanut allergy if they already have a known allergy (such as eczema or a diagnosed food allergy), or there’s a history of allergy in their immediate family (such as asthma, eczema or hay fever).

If this is the case, talk to your doctor or health visitor before you give peanuts or food containing peanuts to your child for the first time.

If you would like to eat peanuts or foods containing peanuts (such as peanut butter) while breastfeeding, you can do so unless you’re allergic to them or your health professional advises you not to.

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You don’t have to delay introducing peanuts. Foods containing peanuts include peanut butter, peanut (groundnut) oil and some snacks. Don’t give whole peanuts or nuts to children under 5 years old because they could choke on them.

Read food labels carefully and avoid foods if you’re not sure whether they contain peanuts.

Food additives

Food contains additives for a variety of reasons, such as to preserve it, to help make it safe to eat for longer, and to give colour or texture.

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All food additives go through rigorous assessments for safety before they can be used. Food labelling must clearly show additives in the list of ingredients, including their name or ‘E’ number and their function, such as ‘colouring’ or ‘preservative’. Testing for allergy to preservatives is very difficult.

Very few people have proven adverse reactions to some food additives, but reactions to ordinary foods, such as eggs, milk or soy, are much more common.

Processed foods are more likely to contain additives and high levels of salt, sugar and fat. Therefore, it’s best to avoid eating too many of these foods.

Sources:

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy(Food allergy)Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy(Allergy prevention)Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy(ASCIA Guidelines – Infant feeding and allergy prevention)

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