What Causes Food Allergies in Babies?

Updated on 18 August 2022

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), food allergies affect up to 6% of babies between the ages of 0 and 2. The incidences of food allergies have grown by 50% in the last 15 years. There is no exact explanation for this, but scientists’ reason is that amplified awareness amongst parents, lower immunity because of less exposure to bacteria and lack of exposure to common allergens can be causes of the spike in food allergy cases. Here is everything you need to know about the causes of food allergies in babies.

What are Food Allergies?

A food allergy is an abnormal response or an adversely negative reaction of your baby’s immune system to an otherwise harmless food substance or protein. The immune system tries to fight the food that seems “danger” to it by releasing Immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE). These antibodies react with the food and induce the release of histamines and other chemicals that cause the symptoms and indicators of food allergies.

What Causes the Most Food Allergies?

In the West, the most common foods causing allergies in babies and children are dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts and shellfish. In India, nut allergies are rare, but allergies to rice and chicken are more commonly reported. Cow’s milk is the most common allergen for babies in India.

Babies are more likely to get certain food allergies if it already exists in their family history. Eczema and food allergies have been seen to have a strong link with most babies (under 3 months) who suffer from eczema being more likely to develop a food allergy later on.

Symptoms to Look Out for in Babies

Some symptoms of immediate reactions to allergies include nettle rash around the mouth, nose and eyes, swelling of lips, tongue, eyes and face, runny or blocked nose, itchy mouth and irritated throat, nausea, vomiting, blood in stool and diarrhoea. A condition called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock is the most life-threatening and serious allergic reaction, where an overproduction of certain body chemicals lowers the blood pressure and narrows airways, making it difficult to breathe. Anaphylaxis is rare in babies and is almost always a result of an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk.


Luckily not all food allergies require treatment and can be easily tacked with at home. However, one must consult a doctor should the reaction cause visible discomfort or it prolonged, in which case a skin or blood test will often be recommended.  

Doctors often recommend that caregivers introduce new foods to a baby one at a time with a reasonable gap between them. Thus, if an allergy does develop, it is easier to identify which food caused it.

The good news is that most food allergies go away with time as the child’s immune system develops. However, some allergies, especially those related to nuts and fish are seen to persist lifelong.






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