Wheat Allergy in Babies – Symptoms and Ways to Deal With It
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Wheat allergy is common in little ones more than adults but the good news is that most kids tend to ‘outgrow’ it with time. A wheat allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to the proteins present in wheat and considers them as harmful invaders. The body sends antibodies to attack them, which may cause an allergic reaction.
If you feed something made with wheat to your baby and notice certain unusual symptoms such as wheezing, breathing difficulties or hay fever in your baby, chances are that he may have a wheat allergy. These symptoms can be avoided by ensuring that you don’t include wheat in your baby’s diet. Read on to know more about wheat allergy, its symptoms, and solutions (if any).
What Is Wheat Allergy?
The four types of proteins found in wheat are 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 one baby to another. Your baby’s body may react differently to what other babies might be facing. Some of the symptoms of wheat allergy in babies are explained below.
1. Hay Fever
A mild symptom though hay fever may lead to rhinorrhea, watery eyes, and sneezing. 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, which can thus 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 food made with wheat, the hives develop instantly, the intensity of which depends on how severe is the allergy.
5. Trouble With Swallowing
A 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 irritation.
6. Asthmatic Tendencies
As already discussed, wheat allergy can lead to breathing difficulties. This short breathiness or a cough can lead to 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
A 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 your baby is diagnosed with wheat allergy, you can continue to breastfeed your baby to fulfil his nutritional 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, the less 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?
If your baby is diagnosed with wheat allergy, you must make sure that you do not feed him anything that contains wheat. That means you will have to be very careful when you go shopping for packaged foods or cereals for your baby. Read labels thoroughly before picking anything from the supermarket. Do not feed him 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 his diet. These ingredients not only taste good but provide the same nutrients that a wheat-oriented diet would.
How to Cope With Wheat Allergy in Infants
If your baby has a wheat allergy, of course, you need to check with baby’s paediatrician with regards to the food you should include in his diet. Other than that, here are some coping techniques you could try:
- 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 an allergic reaction at such a time can be difficult for them to handle. If your baby has developed an allergy to wheat, keep a watch on his diet, so that you can ensure that you don’t inadvertently feed him wheat.
Also Read: How to Deal with Skin Allergies in Babies?