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By Health Promotion Board in collaboration with Dr. Yvonne Ng, Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, National University Hospital.

As you start introducing new foods to your child, you might be concerned about whether your child has food allergies.

There is limited information on food allergy in Singapore. It’s estimated that less than 5% of children younger than 12 years old have food allergy.

Common allergies include:

  • Shellfish (usually lobster, prawn, and crab)—this is the most common food allergen in Singapore.
  • Eggs
  • Cow’s milk
  • Peanuts and other tree nuts
  • Grains such as wheat, oat, and barley
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Unique food allergens
    • Bird's nest
    • Royal jelly
    • Buckwheat

Related: Baby's First Food Journey

Signs of Allergic Reaction and What to Do

Most children with food allergies suffer mild reactions such as skin rashes. These rashes can appear immediately after the food comes into contact with the mouth or skin, or after a few minutes or hours.

Coughing, vomiting and diarrhoea, hives and itching are other common reactions. In this situation, visit your paediatrician for advice.

However, if your child looks pale, is wheezing, has trouble breathing and there’s swelling around his eyes, then the allergy is possibly life-threatening as these are signs of anaphylaxis. Call 995 for an ambulance immediately.

Related: When Allergies Occur

Can I Prevent My Baby from Having Food Allergies?

Here are some things you can do to minimise the risk of allergic reactions:

  1. Talk to your doctor for the latest information on allergy prevention.
  2. Breastfeed your baby—breastfeeding can help reduce the possibility of food allergies.
  3. Start your baby on weaning foods around 6 months of age. Introduce new foods one at a time, in small amounts. This helps you pinpoint the cause of your child’s allergy quickly if he does have an allergic reaction.

But fret not, mummy and daddy! There’s usually little cause for concern as most children grow out of their allergies.

References

  1. Food Allergy. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.nuh.com.sg/ktp-nucmi/health/diseases-and-conditions/allergies/food-allergy.html#src
  2. Alison Joanne Lee, MBBS, MMed (Paeds) and Lynette Pei-Chi Shek, MBBS, MRCP. (2014 May). Food allergy in Singapore: opening a new chapter. Singapore Med J, 55(5): 244–247,doi: 10.11622/smedj.2014065. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291979/