Food allergies in children

​In Finland, approximately 10 to 15% of children aged between 2 and 3 years have a food allergy. The foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction include fish, eggs, strawberries, kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, tomatoes, peas, celery, peanuts and chocolate.

Approximately 3 to 6% of children are allergic to basic foods that are nutritionally important (cow's milk, wheat, rye, barley, oats). However, the majority of childhood food allergies pass by the time the child starts school.

Children over seven with pollen allergy may experience allergic symptoms from certain foods. For example, children with birch pollen allergy may have an allergic reaction to fresh fruit, nuts or spices. Being allergic to additives is very rare.
Food allergies are treated by removing the foods causing symptoms from the diet and by ensuring that the nutritional needs are nevertheless satisfied. Trying to prevent allergies by avoiding common foods that cause allergies is not considered effective.

Dietary advice for persons with food allergy

Dietary advice given by a therapeutic or consultant dietician is necessary when:

  • basic foods including milk, wheat, barley, oats and rye need to be removed from the diet
  • the patient has several allergies with a very limited number of acceptable foods
  • a child exhibits poor growth
  • the patient suffers from other diseases also requiring dietary restrictions
  • a whole food group, e.g. vegetables, is eliminated from the diet of a person allergic to pollen
  • the patient has anaphylactic reactions

 

Dietary advice given by a therapeutic or consultant dietician is recommended when:

  • the patient first starts a new diet
  • the diagnosis is confirmed (referral to a therapeutic dietician, 1 to 2 appointments)
  • the child is approximately one year old. The selection and texture of foods differ significantly from a toddler's diet.
  • the child is approximately two years old. The child is no longer entitled to reimbursement of infant's special medicinal products through health insurance and starts on a milk-free diet.
  • a growth disorder is detected
  • The patient's diet does not provide sufficient nutrition (e.g. can not eat from one or more food groups)

 

The therapeutic dietician determines the appointment intervals based on the patient's condition. Consultation may also be given over the phone.
Therapeutic dieticians see patients on a physician's referral only.