All about about paediatric food allergy

Written by: Dr Mugilan Anandarajan
Edited by: Karolyn Judge

Leading paediatric consultant Dr Mugilan Anandarajan discusses the ins and outs of paediatric food allergy, answering some of the most commonly-asked questions about it in this expert article.

Little girl with food allergy

What is food allergy?

Food allergy is an over-sensitivity/increased sensitivity to a particular food protein such as milk, egg or nut.


Allergen exposure causes the release of chemicals in the body which can cause unpleasant and potentially harmful effects. The most severe form is known as anaphylaxis which can be life threatening.


Some types of food allergy (often referred to as delayed or non-IgE mediated) are also called food intolerances.



What are the common food allergens?

The most common food allergies are:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Nuts
  • Sesame
  • Fish
  • Shell fish
  • Soya
  • Wheat
  • Kiwi



What are the symptoms of food allergy?

Common symptoms of paediatric food allergy include:


They can cause:

  • Breathing problems
  • Circulatory problems that lead to dizziness and collapse due to low blood pressure.



How are food allergies tested and diagnosed?

Paediatric food allergy is diagnosed by a detailed clinical history. This is taken by an experienced physician, and is coupled with allergy tests such as:

  • Skin prick testing;
  • Specific IgE blood testing, or;
  • Allergen challenge, or provocation test, which involves directly exposing the patient to a substance in order to see whether they are allergic to it.


They remain the most reliable way to reach a diagnosis or exclude allergy as the cause of the problems.



What treatments are available for food allergies?

Standard medical advice is to avoid food allergens. There’s also another approach which is known as desensitisation or OIT (Oral Induction of Tolerance), depending on the allergen.



Can I get my child's food allergy treated?

Once there’s a clear diagnosis, we can discuss the options; whether avoidance or desensitisation are useful, and consider together which may be the best option in an individual case.




If you’re concerned your child is experiencing food allergy, arrange a consultation with Dr Anandarajan via his Top Doctors profile.

By Dr Mugilan Anandarajan

Dr Mugilan Anandarajan is a leading consultant paediatrician based in Belfast and Hillborough who specialises in allergies, acid reflux, cow's milk protein intolerance and respiratory problems alongside constipation, recurrent infections and abdominal pain. He privately practises at Kingsbridge Private Hospital Belfast, Ulster Independent Clinic and Hillsborough Private Clinic.

Dr Anandarajan, who is also a consultant paediatrician and the lead consultant for paediatric audit/quality improvement at Ulster Hospital, is highly qualified. He has an MB BS, MD, DCH, PGCert in Clinical Education and PGCert in Clinical Health Science (Allergy), and is a fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Dr Anandarajan is held in high regard for his expertise and holds various public positions. He is the ​​​trustee and honorary treasurer of the Ulster Paediatric Society, committee member of the south eastern trust and the honorary chairman of the British Medical Association's Northern Ireland Eastern Division.

He is also active in teaching and research at Queen's University, Belfast, and has had his work published in various peer-reviewed journals both nationally and internationally. Dr Anandarajan is also a member of various professional organisations. These include the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the British Association of Perinatal Medicine and the American Academy of Paediatrics. Furthermore he is a member of the British Medical Association and the Ulster Paediatric Society.

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