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Has an Allergic Reaction to Food
It's an emergency if your child has flaring nostrils, wheezing or high-pitched whistles as she inhales, swollen lips, or is turning blue. A severe allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis) can quickly close off your baby's airways. If you have an EpiPen (containing epinephrine, which can stop an allergic reaction), use it. You can also give her an antihistamine such as Benadryl. But you should call 911 as well, explains Dr. Cardona, because you can't predict how much worse your child's reaction will get.
It's probably not if the reaction doesn't immediately jeopardize your baby's breathing. Milder allergic reactions can vary widely, showing up as anything from eczema and angry-looking diaper rash to reflux, diarrhea, or even bloody stools. These can be handled at the pediatrician's office, says Dr. Cardona. You can also follow up with your doctor for testing to see what else your baby is allergic to. (And keep in mind that the trigger food could have been passed to your baby through your breast milk.) Babies with one allergy typically have others, says Dr. Cardona. Your doctor may also prescribe an EpiPen for dealing with future accidental exposures, if your baby's allergies are severe.
It's always an emergency. Hands down, this should be treated as an emergency, says Dr. Cardona. Even in small amounts, common household products, medications, and even chewable kids' vitamins can be hazardous to a baby. Call Poison Control at 800-222-1222. Operators can tell you what to do based on your baby's age and what he ingested.
Originally published in the April 2012 issue of Parents magazine.
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