How Are Food Allergies Handled?
To avoid the foods your child is allergic to, you'll need to become an avid label reader and prepare for accidental exposures. Fortunately, as of 2006, packaged foods need to have labels that plainly state whether the product contains potential allergens, like milk or nuts. But because it's possible to come across foods labeled before 2006, it's a good idea to become familiar with the other names by which foods are called. For instance, milk often goes by "casein," and egg is sometimes called "albumin." (See the Nemours Foundation site, kidshealth.org, for lists of alternate food names.) Some labels also say "May contain..." or "Processed in a plant that also processes...," and you'd be wise to steer clear of those products too.
Foods your child is allergic to may pop up in unexpected places. For example, the flu vaccine is cultured in eggs, so if your child has ever had a severe reaction to eggs, she should not get the shot. The good news is that allergies don't always last forever. By school age, many children outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, wheat, and soy, though typically not to shellfish or peanuts. If it turns out that your child is allergic to a key food, like milk, a nutritionist (and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, foodallergy.org) can point you toward substitute foods so your child's diet is safe, nutritious, and tasty.