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All About Wheat Allergy In Babies

5 min read

Shifting your baby from breast milk and introducing solids is an important phase in their life. This is the time when as a mother you need to be very cautious of what you are feeding to your baby and observe your baby’s reaction to each and every food you introduce.Also read: The 3 day Wait Rule For Babies To Introduce Solids. In case your baby is fussing over food and having persistent tummy upsets, it could be a sign of an allergic reaction to certain food. Although cereals are recommended as the best first food for babies, some foods like wheat can cause an allergic reaction in your baby. To know more about the symptoms of wheat allergy in babies, keep on reading.
wheat allergy in babies

What Is Wheat Allergy?

Generally, babies and infants are at a higher risk of developing an allergy to any food than adult. In case there is a family history of allergies or allergic diseases, such as asthma or eczema, and if both parents have allergies then the babies of such parents are more likely to develop a food allergy than someone with only one parent who has allergies.
Wheat has four types of proteins. These are albumin, gluten, globulin, and gliadin. Wheat allergy occurs when your baby’s immune system consider these proteins as dangerous intruders. The immune system responds by trying to fight off these invaders by developing antibodies against them. As a result, chemicals like histamine are released in the body causing an allergic reaction. Of the four proteins, Gluten is more often the culprit.

What Is The Difference Between Allergy And Intolerance?
Food Allergy Food Intolerance
Relatively uncommon Much more common
Onset of symptoms within few minutes Onset of symptoms can delay many hours
Food allergy takes place when the immune system mistakes an ingredient in food as harmful invaders and develops antibody against it Food intolerance takes place when an ingredient or component in food aggravates the digestive system or if unable to digest the food properly

 

Is Wheat Allergy And Celiac Disease Same ?

Even though the symptoms are similar, wheat allergy and celiac disease are not same.

  • Celiac disease: Celiac disease is a food intolerance and also an autoimmune disorder that causes discomforts in the small intestine when gluten is consumed. When babies with celiac disease consume gluten, (which is found in wheat, rye, malt, barley, and some oat products) the immune system starts to attack the small intestine. This damages and diminishes the number of the villi. Villi are the little thread like structure that line and protect the small intestine, and stimulate proper absorption of nutrients. Therefore, the reduction in the number of villi can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis, etc. Celiac disease is common among adults too
  • Wheat allergy: Wheat allergy on the other hand is the response of the immune system to one of the proteins found in wheat. Wheat allergy is more common in children than adults. Wheat allergies, unlike celiac disease, can potentially bring about reactions that can be life threatening
What Are The Symptoms Of Wheat Allergy In Babies?

The symptoms of wheat allergy can differ. Same person can have different symptoms at different point of time. Sometimes reactions can be exceptionally mild and affect only one system of the body, like hives on the skin. Other times, reactions can be more severe and involve more than one system of the body like digestive system and respiratory system together. Some of the common symptoms of wheat allergy include:

  • Hay fever : It is characterized by a runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and sneezing
  • Eczema: wheat allergy could cause or worsen the existing eczema in your baby. Eczema is characterized by dry, itchy patches, swollen and hard with occasional discharge of fluid
  • Hives: Your baby may begin to develop itchy reddish and raised spots on various parts of his body, such as hands, face, arms, chest, and stomach that would subside in a couple of hours. Hives appear soon after your baby consumes wheat. Depending on the intensity of the allergy in your baby towards the wheat, hives are also found to develop spontaneously
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling and itching on the lips
  • Difficulty in breathing due to inflamed throat, lungs, and nose
  • Difficulty in swallowing caused due to tightening of the throat
  • Asthmatic signs like chest tightness, cough, shortness of breath, etc
  • Gastrointestinal upset: Stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea can occur due to wheat allergy
  • Anaphylactic reaction: Even though very rare, this potentially life-threatening reaction can impair breathing and send your baby’s body into shock

If you notice one or more of these allergic reactions in your baby, it is important that you discuss it with your doctor immediately.
wheat allergy

Breastfeeding And Wheat Allergy

If your baby is suspected to have wheat allergy then breastfeeding is a necessary. Breastfeeding helps to boost the immune system of your baby. By breastfeeding your baby as long as you can, you are increasing his chances of having an allergy free life. If your baby is prone to allergies, continuing breastfeeding will ensure that he comes in contact with a potential allergen much later in his life. By this time, the immune system would have matured in your baby and the chances of it reacting normally are high.

Foods To Avoid If Your Baby Has Wheat Allergy

If it is confirmed that your baby has wheat allergy, you need to try and eliminate all the food products containing wheat from his diet. For this you need to read labels carefully the next time you go grocery shopping. Keep away from common sources of wheat like breads, pastas, cereals, bulgur wheat, gravies, sauces, wheat bran, durum wheat, semolina, rusk and biscuits
There are many alternatives to wheat substitutes such as potato flour, rice flour and soy flour. Also tapioca, arrowroot, barley, oat and buckwheat flour and corn and sago starch can be used for cooking your baby’s food.

Dealing With Wheat Allergy In Babies

If your baby develops an allergic reaction within 2 to 3 hours of consuming wheat, you need to speak to your doctor immediately.

  • If your baby develops a severe allergic reaction, then your doctor would recommend that you take a skin prick test or certain blood tests for your baby
  • Keep a watch as to how many days it takes for the symptoms of wheat allergy to subside in your baby
  • It is advisable to maintain a food journal to know which food items are responsible for an allergy in your baby
  • Try eliminating all the food items containing wheat from your baby’s diet for 2-3 weeks. When the symptoms go away, try reintroducing them in your child to see if there is any allergic reaction. If your child continues to show symptoms of wheat allergy, eliminate wheat containing food items from his diet
  • Check with your doctor as to what can be safely given to your baby. The good news is that some babies outgrow food allergy when they reach the age of 3. Periodically keep taking advice from an allergist to know if wheat can be reintroduced in your baby’s diet

Did your baby have wheat allergy? What were its symptoms and how did you deal with it? Do share in it the comments section below.

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