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Kids and allergies: Your most common questions answered

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Including if allergies last forever.

With up to 50 per cent of Australian children suffering an allergy*, there’s a good chance your child, or someone else you know, has to avoid dangerous triggers.

Whether it’s sneezes and sniffles from springtime pollen, or rashes, breathing difficulties or tummy troubles from certain foods, we asked Sarah Appleford, clinical nutritionist from Nutrition For Kids, to share the ins and outs of allergies so we can keep our kids happy and healthy.

Why do kids get allergies?

A food allergy is an abnormal reaction by the immune system to a food or environmental allergen, such as pollen, mould, dust or pet fur. Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer as to why some people suffer from allergies and others don’t, but it’s likely a combination of genetics, environment and gut microbiome, and maybe some bad luck.

Do allergies last forever?

Not always. In fact, two thirds of children grow out of their food allergy by the time they are four years old.

What can I be doing to bolster my child’s health and nutrition if they have an allergy?

Thankfully there are a lot of substitutions for the top allergenic foods so your child doesn’t have to miss out. Nut or oat milks are a great alternative for those with a cow’s milk allergy; and sunflower seed butter is a popular option for kids needing to cut out nuts.

The best thing any parent can do for their child’s diet is to get the foundation right – aim for a diverse array of whole foods, while minimising the intake of processed foods.

Does boosting gut health help?

With 70-80 per cent of our immune cells found in the gut, there is growing evidence to suggest a lack of gut bacteria diversity – and dysfunction of the intestinal barrier – is linked with allergies. We want to help the beneficial bacteria populate and thrive, while keeping the pathogenic species in the right balance.

Time in nature and access to a nutrient-rich diet filled with whole foods, particularly plants, is a great starting point. A naturopath or nutritionist can also help you find the right probiotic strains at the right dose as well as sources of prebiotics to help your individual child.

How can I get other people to take my child’s allergy seriously?

Have an honest conversation about what occurs when your child eats a particular food. When it comes to grandparents, perhaps provide an alternative treat so that they can still spoil your child without the consequences.

At the same time, educate your child so they understand how their body reacts to certain foods, and empower them to make informed choices.

What is the best way for parents to keep kids with allergies safe?

The best way you can support your child is to get educated. The Tiny Hearts Education first aid course can help you build confidence about what to do if your child suffers an allergic reaction. Try to remain calm and act quickly if they have a reaction – remember, your child feeds off your emotions so if you’re in a panic, their symptoms may worsen.

See a qualified, holistic health practitioner who will help you create a plan and strategies to help your child navigate life with allergies and reduce the overwhelm.

* https://www.health.vic.gov.au/chief-health-officer/allergies

For over 60 years, Children’s Panadol has been helping children of all ages feel better again. You can trust Children’s Panadol to provide your child with fast, effective, temporary relief from pain and fever. Find the whole Children’s Panadol range at your local pharmacy.

Always read and follow the directions for use. Incorrect use could be harmful. Seek medical advice for children under 3 months.

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