Allergies and intolerances

Factors that determine that a child is allergic to a food


The appearance or development of a food allergy in children is something that scares all parents for several reasons, mainly because of the risk it poses to the health of the child, but also because of the discomfort that it is going to generate and it is going to involve. the little one having to avoid that food or foods throughout his life. What does it depend on if a child is allergic to a food? We answer this question!

There are three main groups or types of immune responses, mediated by antibodies, by cells or by a combination of both responses, but basically and in general, allergies consist of a different reaction from the one expected by the immune system.

Allergies in which the immune response is mediated by antibodies usually have relatively immediate reactions after eating the food (normally less than 2 hours) and their symptoms can either be short-lived and extremely serious (they are the most prone to anaphylaxis). or to be prolonged in time normally with less serious symptoms. Additionally, in these allergic reactions, the amount of antigen necessary to develop the symptoms is minimal, being the most dangerous.

Those allergies in which the immune response is mediated by cells is less clear than the previous one, since they have been studied in less depth, but their symptoms tend to be more delayed, appearing between 4 and 24 (or even more) after ingestion of the food, and with milder symptoms (generally digestive symptoms and skin reactions such as urticaria), but which can become chronic, and can seriously affect the nutritional status of the child. The amount of food required to trigger symptoms is relatively high.

There is also a third type of food allergies in which the immune response is a combination of the above and whose mechanism is even more complex.

According to statistics, worldwide, food allergies affect around 5-8% of children, and, while some will overcome their allergies in the first 5 years of life (it usually occurs with milk and eggs), others They will continue into adulthood, so it is estimated that about 4% of adults have a food allergy.

Additionally, those children with an allergy to a certain food are more susceptible to developing allergies to other foods with similar characteristics in what is known as cross-reactivity. It is difficult to determine what specifically it depends on whether a child is allergic to a food, but today certain connections can be established:

- Genetic component
Although the fact that parents are allergic to one or more foods does not necessarily mean that their children will be (it is not 100% safe, at least), there is a higher probability that children will develop some type of allergy , not necessarily food or the same foods that their parents have. However, the genetic component is tremendously important in the development of allergies.

- Environmental component
The body itself develops the allergy in contact with the stimulus, without prior notice and for no apparent reason.

For the moment, the answer is no, but with minor nuances.

- First of all, research carried out in recent years suggests that exclusive breastfeeding protects against the development of food allergies on a large scale and is the only prevention mechanism with relatively reliable results.

- From there, different alternatives have been studied in case breastfeeding is not successful, such as the use of hypoallergenic formulas in the baby's feeding or the late introduction of foods with high allergenic potential. However, later the balance has leaned towards an early introduction of this type of food with significant results in the development of food allergies in children considered to be at high risk.

- Finally, the use of probiotics during pregnancy and lactation in the case of potentially high-risk babies (with a genetic background) is another of the protection mechanisms with encouraging results.

In the future, interpret the genetic and environmental interactions that determine the profile of the allergic child It will be crucial to fully understand the mechanisms of the pathogenesis of food allergies and to be able to evaluate possible alternative treatments (not just the exclusion of the food in the diet) and even more successful prevention mechanisms.

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Video: Kids With Food Allergies - Staying Safe (September 2020).