We all know that Mother Nature’s most perfect food is breast milk. With its vitamin-packed and nutritiously dense formula, babies need nothing else to survive and thrive during their first six months of life. For those who choose not, or are unable, to breastfeed, there are numerous formulas on the market that are fortified with all the nutrition that baby needs, as well. However, when their appetites and caloric needs make it necessary to begin supplementing with solid foods, it can be daunting with the vast number of food allergies that are possible. Childhood food allergies are a growing public health concern. Symptoms can vary from vague and mild to extreme and life threatening. Therefore, we hope to educate you on the variety of food allergies present and how to recognize them in your child.
First, it is of utmost importance that you get your terminology straight. There are food allergies, food sensitivities and food intolerances. Allergies are a very rare response of a person’s immune system that produce fast noticeable symptoms like hives, swelling and shortness of breath. This type of reaction only affects 1-2% of population, whereas food sensitivities are much more common, affecting 20-30% of people in the U.S. The most severe form of this reaction, called anaphylactic shock, can cause a person’s airway to swell shut and cause death within minutes. Unlike allergies that have an immediate reaction, food sensitivities have a delayed reaction of hours to even days. Because they can affect any organ system in the body, it makes it difficult to diagnosis them.
On a completely different playing field, food intolerances have nothing to do with the immune system. They affect 1/3 of the American population. They are a problem with the digestive tract. When an offending food is ingested, it sits unabsorbed in the digestive system and begins to ferment and cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. The most common form of this is lactose intolerance, which is a reaction caused by eating dairy products.
Food allergies and sensitivities have increased 18% since 1997, and more specifically peanut allergies have tripled during that time. This is just another reason to keep your child’s diet as natural as possible from the introduction of solid foods. The Beaba Babycook Pro, a baby food maker that steam cooks and blend food, can help you cook your own baby’s food without any additives or preservatives.