Food allergies are an increasingly common problem; it's estimated that at least four out of every 100 children have a food allergy. Often these allergies are discovered in the early years, and about 90 percent are caused by a small group of foods or food groups. The most common types of baby food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, and wheat. These allergies have easy to recognize symptoms. Some of these can be outgrown, but others are likely to be permanent.
According to many experts, instances of baby food allergies are on the rise. The reasons for this are unclear, but it's thought to be a combination of heredity and environmental factors. Having parents who are allergic greatly increases the chances of baby food allergies in their offspring. It's best to introduce solid foods to a baby one at a time, and the baby should be carefully watched for signs and symptoms of allergy.
Many food allergies are caused by natural foods, but it is possible to be allergic to additives such as colors and preservatives. Often if a baby is allergic to one food, he or she will be allergic to others. Although there are more than 160 foods that can cause baby food allergies, the vast majority are caused by a relatively small group known as "the big eight." These eight foods or food groups cause approximately 90 percent of food allergies.
The eight most common baby food allergies include foods that are consumed alone or as ingredients in many other foods, such as milk, eggs, wheat and soy. Milk is present in most dairy products like yogurt and cheese and also in many prepared foods. Wheat and eggs are found in pasta and baked goods, among other things. Peanuts and tree nuts, like almonds and cashews, are also part of "the big eight" and are also present in many prepared foods. Crab or shrimp and other fish are also included in the eight allergic foods.
It's possible to be allergic to select items from a food group included in "the big eight" without being allergic to everything in the group. It is also possible for allergies to develop after the first few times a food is consumed, so it's important to be alert for signs of baby food allergies. Allergic reaction symptoms like hives, itchy skin, swelling of arms, legs or face, difficulty breathing, or vomiting can occur within minutes to about two hours after eating. Longterm symptoms like eczema or asthma can also occur, and a doctor should always be consulted if allergies are suspected. Allergies to milk, soy, eggs and wheat are often outgrown, but the others are usually permanent.