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When you give birth to your baby, the only source of food for your little one is breast milk. But when your infant starts to develop those first set of teeth, you introduce some solid food to their diet. One of the first things we offer our baby is roti or chapati, or even soft pasta. All these foods are made of wheat.
Owing to the weak immune system in babies, their body can mount an allergic reaction to wheat. Read on to know everything you ever wanted to know about this rare allergy.
What is Wheat Allergy
Wheat is a staple food that generally comprises four protein constituents: albumin, gluten, gliadin, and globulin. These proteins make for a wholesome diet. But sometimes the immune system may consider the mentioned proteins as harmful. Thus, in turn, the immune system produces certain antibodies so as to fight off the protein intrusion. Further allergy gets triggered when chemicals such as histamine are released into the system. Studies suggest that it is the protein “gluten” that is the root cause of the wheat allergic reaction.
Difference Between Wheat Allergy and Celiac Disease (Gluten Intolerance)
One may notice similar symptoms with the onset of celiac disease, as may be seen in case of wheat allergy. So how can you differentiate between the two? Have a look.
- Celiac Disease: This common disease is a kind of food intolerance which is also referred to as an autoimmune disorder. The celiac disease leads to uneasiness in the small intestine due to the intake of gluten-laden foods. When the immune system detects gluten in the body, it tends to attack the small intestine, particularly the villi. Villi are similar to threads that protect the small intestine in the form of an outer lining. These villi also promote effective absorption of nutrients, damage of which can lead to malnutrition or osteoporosis.
- Wheat Allergy: A rare disease, wheat allergy as already discussed is specifically triggered by intake of wheat-oriented foods. The proteins present in the wheat poses a threat to the immune system and, in turn, histamine is released that causes allergy.
Symptoms of Wheat Allergy in Babies
When talking about signs of wheat allergy in a baby, one should be clear on the fact that the symptoms may vary from patient to patient. Your baby’s body may react differently to what other babies might be facing.
1. Hay Fever
A mild symptom though hay fever may lead to rhinorrhea, watery eyes, and then sneezing too. Such a condition is similar to a common cold.
2. Breathing Difficulties
A wheat allergy sometimes leads to inflammation of the lungs or the throat. Such a condition thus can lead to breathing problems and may even result in choking.
Eczema is a condition where an insect bite on any part of the body can lead to intensive itching. If the baby is prone to a wheat allergy, eczema may worsen.
This condition is characterized by reddish swollen spots on the skin that would take from six to twelve hours to settle. As soon as your baby munches on any wheat food, the hives develop instantly, the intensity of which depends on how severe is the allergy.
5. Trouble With Swallowing
Wheat allergy may sometimes lead to stiffening of the throat in some cases. When this happens, swallowing becomes difficult that may further lead to malnutrition and throat irritations.
6. Asthmatic Tendencies
As already discussed, wheat allergy can lead to breathing difficulties. This short breathiness or a cough can lead to another rare disease called “asthma”.
7. Gastro Oriented Infections
Be it stomach pain, bloating, nausea, or diarrhoea; wheat allergy can lead to any or all of them in your baby.
8. Anaphylactic Reactions
This is one of the most severe and rare symptoms of a wheat allergy. An anaphylactic reaction can straightaway impair breathing and could also send the body into a state of shock.
Though common in adults, babies may also produce whistling sounds while asleep. This may be due to the wheat allergy leading to breathing issues.
10. Lip Swelling
Wheat allergy may even lead to inflammation of the lips. Such swelling is generally accompanied by itching that may further escalate the swelling.
How Does Breastfeeding Help Avoid Wheat Allergy
If the wheat allergy is found in your baby, breastfeeding is the only alternative left to fulfill his nutrient requirements. There is minimal chance for breastfed babies to develop a wheat allergy. Breastfeeding provides an added advantage of boosting immunity in babies. More the baby breastfeeds lesser is the tendency of developing allergies.
Even if your baby becomes prone to allergy later in life, he will fight it off like a pro all credits to breastfeeding in the initial stages of life.
What Foods Should be Avoided for Babies with Wheat Allergy
Needless to say, wheat allergy means steering clear of any kind of wheat containing foods. Be it any kind of feed, or any other food item; reading through labels becomes necessary before picking anything from the supermarket. Keep your little one’s miles away from bread loaves, sauces, emmer, cakes, biscuits, semolina, sauces, and even bulgar wheat.
Alternatively, you can include potato flour, rice flour, barley, oats, or even soy flour in their diet. These ingredients not only taste good but provide the same nutrients that a wheat-oriented diet would offer.
How to Cope with Wheat Allergy in Infants
Though consulting the doctor is an initial step, the other coping up methods include:
- Keep a check on what triggered the allergy and exclude it from the baby’s diet completely.
- Keep a check on for many days the symptoms persist so that the doctors can be informed when asked.
- Exclude all wheat-containing food just to be on a safer side or limit the wheat food if the allergy was just one-time.
- Take advice from experienced doctors so that they can suggest what to do and what not to.
Babies are vulnerable during the initial months of life and even an allergic reaction can spell doom for them. By keeping a careful watch on their diet, you can ensure that you don’t inadvertently feed her wheat.
Also Read: How to Deal with Skin Allergies in Babies?