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What to do when a Food Allergy or Intolerance has been diagnosed

If your baby has been diagnosed with a Food Allergy or Intolerance, your initial reaction will probably be one of complete despair, a fear of what lies ahead, and despondency that your child has "nothing to eat".

Do not panic, it is not as bad as you think! Ten years ago when I was first diagnosed with a wheat and dairy allergy, all that was available was a 100% rye bread from a small bakery in Cape Town, which could easily have been mistaken for a brick! Things have changed and the range and availability of alternatives is huge. Many people are choosing to eliminate wheat and dairy even without an allergy being present. I have included some suppliers of allergy free foods to help with the transition (and we will hopefully be adding more soon!).

 

• There are plenty of formulas on the market that are Cow's milk protein free or Soy based, in the case of a cow's milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance. Ask your Health Care Practitioner to recommend the best formula for your baby, if you are formula feeding.

• Ask your Health Care Practitioner for help and advice. Allergy has recently become a recognised speciality in South Africa and there are doctors available who are fully trained in allergy and will be available to support you through the process.

• Consult a Dietician or Nutritionist who will help you with the transition to a new allergy free diet. They will also ensure that your diet is still balanced and contains everything your require for health and vitality. This is especially important for a child on an allergy restricted diet, as they need all the right nutrients and vitamins for healthy growth and development.

• The Internet has an almost endless supply of recipes for your new diet, and we hope to be adding some of my allergy free recipes to the Baby Calm website soon.

• The Allergy free diet could also be for you, while you breast feed, if your baby is reacting to something you are eating that is being passed through your Breast Milk.

• Always seek advice from your Health Care Practitioner, especially when it comes to introducing solids to your baby, if food allergies and Intolerances are evident. They will ensure that you approach it in the correct manner, ensuring that the baby gets all the nutrition he needs.

• Knowledge is power, the more you know about the allergy or intolerance, the more prepared you will be. The allergens can also be hidden under different names and appear in products that you would never imagine to find them in. So research as much as possible, and start reading LABELS.

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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.