ST. LOUIS – According to Food Allergy Research and Education, about one out of every 13 children is allergic to at least one food.  About 40 percent of those children have experienced severe, life-threatening reactions.  Unfortunately, there is no way to know if your child has a food allergy until they try the food for the first time and have a reaction.

“About a third of parents will report their child has an adverse reaction to food,” said Dr. Molly Rozier, SLUCare pediatrician at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. “Signs and symptoms of a food reaction would be things like hives, lips swelling, facial swelling, lounge swelling, difficulty breathing, and even vomiting and diarrhea can be signs of allergies, and this will typically happen within a few hours of eating the food.” 

Rozier said it is important for parents, teachers, babysitters, and anyone else who spends time with their child, to be alert for signs of food allergies.

Allergic reactions from food can be life-threatening. 

“Kids can develop something called anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening reaction to a food,” said Rozier. “So, the severity depends on the child and amount of food ingested and how many previous exposures they have had to that food.” If you know your child has a food allergy, look at ingredients in food both inside and outside the home and be sure your child has an Epi-Pen ready.” 

She said there is no pre-test to know if your child will have a reaction before the food exposure. Rozier said kids who are old enough to understand they have a food allergy and can speak about it can be empowered to take a proactive approach to control their allergy exposure.  “Teach them to ask about what ingredients are in the food they are eating.” She said children can alert adults about their allergens when they are not with their parents. 

Rozier said the most common foods for allergens are eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts.

“Most food allergies, there’s a pretty good chance that kids can grow out of it, but parents will need to work closely with an allergist to work that food back into their diet,” she said.

To learn more about pediatric allergies, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7 p.m. and FOX 2 News at 9 p.m.