If you have a child with food allergies, you are not alone. As many as 32 million Americans, including 6 million children, have food allergies.1-3 That means that 8% of children have at least one food allergy.1-3 That is 1 in 13 children or roughly two in every classroom.
However, among the children that have food allergies, 40% of them are allergic to multiple foods.4 If you are the parent of a child with food allergies, you know how serious food allergies can be. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.5 So how do we keep your little one safe, while still ensuring that they are able to take part in social events, eat out at restaurants, and thrive developmentally?
Research has found that children with food allergies are at an increased risk of inadequate nutrient intake, which can lead to poor growth and vitamin & mineral deficiencies.(6-8) One study found that children with multiple food allergies were significantly shorter than children without food allergies.(6)
In extreme cases, research studies have also reported that allergen elimination diets have caused children to develop rickets or Kwashiorkor (a severe form of malnutrition).(6-7) Luckily, research also tells us that if children with food allergies find appropriate ways to replace the nutrients they are missing, they can still continue to grow and thrive.(6-7) Below is a list of common nutrients found in the big 9 food allergens and alternative sources:
Since childhood is a time of rapid growth and development, it is important that your child is getting all of the nutrients they need. However, this can be hard! This is especially true if your child has multiple food allergies or is experiencing other factors that are impacting their food intake, such as picky eating or consuming a vegetarian/vegan diet.
If you are struggling to figure out how to make sure your child is getting the nutrients they need to grow or if you child is having issues with growth or weight, then it is important to seek professional help from your pediatrician and a registered dietitian with training in food allergies. It is also perfectly okay to seek professional help even if you just have questions about how to manage your children’s food allergies or want to triple check your child is getting everything they need to thrive. Healthcare professionals, such as myself, are always here to support you and your family!
Kerry Lett, MPH, RDN, LDN is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Public Health who is passionate about helping growing families navigate life and achieve all of their milestones along the way. She works with women who are trying to conceive, pregnant, breastfeeding, or postpartum and children to help manage medical conditions, tackle picky eating, and establish a good family relationship with food. With an overload of nutrition information available, Kerry understands how difficult it can be to know which foods are best for you and your family. Kerry owns a private practice called Milestones Pediatric & Maternal Nutrition.
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