GPDQ logo

Child Food Allergies

That’s Nuts! Half of UK families are confused about what children with food allergies can consume and a third wouldn’t know how to deal with a reaction

We’ve partnered with video parenting website and vlogger community, to poll over 1,000 UK-based families on their behaviour, feelings and understanding on the impact of food allergies on children and their parents after our GPs identified a knowledge gap amongst parents, informal child carers, friends, and family.

The study has revealed that almost half (46%) of families in the UK are confused about what a child with food allergies can consume, and two in every five families (36%) wouldn’t know how to respond should the child have an allergic reaction.

Dr Tom York, dad-of-one, and one of the GPs behind the doctor-on- demand-app GPDQ comments on why it’s important for all parents to educate themselves and others on food allergies:

“Food allergies can cause a whole spectrum of symptoms, from minor skin irritation right through to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. GPs work with families of sufferers to ensure they are educated and informed enough to keep the child safe and promote living a normal life. However, that only deals with half of the issue.

Other people’s lack of knowledge is a major factor that could impact a child’s life – this could be another parent choosing the wrong birthday cake or kids sharing food without their parents knowing. People can develop new allergies at any stage in their life, so we shouldn’t consider allergy sufferers as ‘them’ and ‘us’.

We would all benefit from putting ourselves in the shoes of others and ensure we’re not making decisions that put others at risk. The first and most important lesson for us all is to be mindful when it comes to potentially harmful food ingredients, and always double check before preparing food for allergy sufferers. Secondly, we can all educate ourselves in recognising the signs of a serious allergic reaction and arming ourselves with the knowledge of what to do in this scenario, potentially helping to save a life.”

What should I feed a child with a food allergy?

  • Ask the parent for any specific instructions they received from their GP
  • Ensure that the allergen is not in food they consume
  • Read the label of food packaged food and drinks that you are serving
  • Avoid unpackaged foods if you can’t be sure of the contents, e.g. cakes from bakeries
  • If you are in a restaurant let the staff know and ask for a firm guarantee that they will not be in the chosen dish

If the worst happens, how do I recognise a reaction?

Allergic reactions usually happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen. They may cause:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • A raised, itchy red rash – in some cases, the skin can turn red and itchy, but without a rash
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, throat or other areas of the body
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Feeling dizzy and lightheaded
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or diarrhoea
  • Hay fever like symptoms, such as sneezing or itchy eyes

What should I do if I spot a reaction?

Most reactions are mild; if the allergy is known and medication prescribed administer as per the GPs instructions.

Occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can occur. This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment call 999.