Food allergies and intolerance in infants

food allergies and intolerance in infants

Food allergies and intolerances in infants

Food allergies can cause a lot of worry, especially when you have to send your child off to school. These allergies are not always easy to spot, but it isn’t impossible.

The first step to take is to identify whether your child is suffering from an intolerance or allergy. Physical reactions such as bloating to specific foods aren’t uncommon. They are likely to be considered an intolerance rather than an allergy. Both can have similar symptoms which is why they are often confused.

Allergies are characterised as being life-threatening and occur when the body’s immune system perceives a specific food as harmful, leading to an allergic reaction. Whereas intolerances are less severe and often will only cause issues such as stomach pains or nausea; this is usually a result of the body not being able to digest certain foods or the digestive system reacting to the food and becoming irritated as a result.

Dietary alternatives

If your child is intolerant, then they may be able to consume minimal amounts of the food they are sensitive to without too much discomfort. You can swap out foods for alternatives, such as oat milk instead of dairy milk. Ask your doctor for help in aiding your digestion, as well as seek medical help for any underlying health issues that are causing the sensitivity.

Early intervention

The BSACI’s Paediatric Allergy Group (PAG) and the Food Allergy Specialist Group (FASG) of the British Dietetic Association (BDA) have developed guidance to identify allergies in higher risk infants and advice in early prevention of allergies.

They suggest that you introduce a variety of vegetables, fruit, starchy foods, protein, as well as pasteurised dairy into your child’s diet as early as six months old. Including foods commonly associated with allergies such as egg and peanuts. It’s also worth noting that babies who suffer from eczema are at a higher risk of food allergies.


The guide states that there are two categories to be aware of:

  • Immediate – typically happens within 30 minutes of consuming the food.
  • Delayed – occurs hours after the dietary trigger.

Immediate symptoms include:

  • Swollen lips, face or eyes
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

Rarer symptoms include:

  • Swollen tongue
  • A persistent cough
  • Difficulty in breathing or heavy breathing
  • Unresponsiveness

Delayed symptoms include:

  • Persistent abdominal pain, vomiting
  • Food refusal or aversion
  • Frequent stools, constipation
  • Skin redding or itch over the body

If your child suffers from eczema, an allergy can make the eczema flare up and worsen.


Intolerances can be diagnosed by the exclusion of products one by one, with further reintroduction in a blinded manner, confirming the absence and return of the symptoms. Our clinic can test for allergies in children. We can give dietary advice after doing one or more of the following tests:

  • Skin prick test with commercially available food extracts
  • Prick to prick test with fresh or cooked food
  • Challenge test with food in a safe hospital environment
  • Blood test Specific IgE to food
  • Biochip – molecular method of Specific IgE detection Immunocap ISAC

If you find that your child is experiencing any of the symptoms listed in this blog, get in touch with us today on book an appointment with one of our consultants to take the first steps to preventing their discomfort.

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