Food allergies in children

August 25, 2008 by admin 

Often Unrecognized, Often Undiagnosed, Delayed Food Allergy In Children

You might find it surprising that not all allergies present with a fast-responding allergic reaction; you might find it surprising that it can be as long as three days before symptoms of an allergy present as a noteworthy reaction.  Nevertheless, all of the above are true, and they are especially true of food allergies.  The condition even has a name, despite the fact that these food allergies often go undiagnosed—Delayed Food Allergy.

How Can Food Allergy Reactions Be Delayed?

Food molecules begin to be absorbed when they enter the mouth and digestive track, but they also continue to be broken down as food moves through the body.Meaning that some allergens found in foods will not be in a form that can be harmful until after some processing has occurred; it also means that some allergens will not build up to an intolerable level until after a time of processing.  All of this processing can take a fair amount of time, and delayed food allergy in children may not present symptoms for some time; it can take a few hours, or as long as twelve hours or three days for a delayed food allergy reaction in a child to show up.

So Many Symptoms, So Easily Mistaken

It’s fairly easy to figure out that a child has an allergy to a food when the symptoms come on fast and present obviously; but it’s a much different story when a food allergy reaction is delayed.

A sudden-onset food allergy reaction will normally present with itching of the face, throat, or mouth, and may also cause hives and swelling. 

These symptoms may also be present when there is delayed food allergy in children, but it may take hours before they occur.  More commonly, though, the symptoms of delayed food allergy in children are those that can easily pass for something other than an allergy, and that is why delayed food allergy in children is so often left undiagnosed.  The symptoms that are often missed in a food allergy in children include:

• Stomach upset
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Abdominal pain and cramps
• Constipation
• Congestion
• Headache
• Hyperactivity
• Mood changes
• Muscle or joint pain
• Gastrointestinal disease or condition

Obviously, each of these are symptoms that can easily be attributed to a wide variety of allergies and illnesses.  When other allergies cannot be found, or symptoms seem to coincidentally come on after certain foods are eaten, it might be wise to start considering the possibility of delayed food allergy in children.

In truth, many delayed food allergies in children fall more easily into the category of food intolerance rather than food allergy because there is no association with the allergy immune antibody IgE, the antibody that classically defines a reaction as an allergy.  The difference is really worth noting only for the sake of immunotherapy and the selection of medications.  It is worth exploring for some children, but as treatment of food allergies and intolerances relies more heavily on avoidance of offensive foods, identifying the trigger of a delayed food allergy in a child is often enough.

Symptoms So Easily Missed, Why Do They Matter?

It stands to reason that if something is not causing much of a notable problem, it’s really not much of a concern at all; but that is not really the case in regards to delayed food allergy in children. As mentioned above, knowing that there is a problem with a delayed food allergy in a child and finding out what the source of the allergy is is imperative to management of the allergy.

Management of delayed food allergy in children is important because no child should live their life in pain or discomfort when there is another option.  Couple this with the fact that delayed food allergy in children may be causing chronic and secondary conditions such as asthma, and you have some very good reasons to explore the possibility of delayed food allergy in children.


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