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Colitis

In some babies delayed type (non-IgE mediated) food allergy can cause Colitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the mucosal lining of the colon and large intestine, which becomes red and sore, and may even form sores that bleed, causing bloody diarrhoea. The colitis may extend to involve the small bowel (enterocolitis) or may be localised to the rectum, which is the very lower end of the large bowel(proctocolitis).

  

Symptoms of Colitis include:

• Apparent Bowel Pain/cramps or colicky pain

• Difficulty passing bowel movement or constipation

• Diarrhoea

• Bloody Faeces

• Poor absorption of food and nutritional problems

• Failure to thrive

  

This condition responds well to the elimination of the offending food and heals with time. There are no blood or skin tests to reliably diagnose this condition. The diagnosis most often rests on the patient's improvement in symptoms when the food is eliminated from the diet, and relapse of symptoms when the food is reintroduced. Sometimes, a colonoscopy may help in the diagnosis. This involves pushing a camera up the baby's rectum to have a look inside his colon. If you are at all concerned that your baby may be suffering from this condition, please contact your Health Care Practitioner immediately.

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 This article has been co-written with Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.