What is food intolerance in children?

Food intolerance in children it is a quite frequent picture today in which many factors influence that we should know. In most cases, the problem can be solved with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

The digestive and immune system of babies must go through a maturation process as they grow. The adaptation to new foods, the creation of bacterial flora and the infections, frequent in these ages, influence in this whole process.

The digestive system of children

The digestive capacity of a baby increases from 10 ml of the first day of life to 200 after the first year, as the digestive system matures. We must bear in mind that digestion in a child is slower than that of an adult.

As it is well known, Breastfeeding provides a more adequate digestion process to the requirements of the newborn. However, for parents who can not provide breastfeeding to their children, formula milk also provides the necessary requirements.

But the digestive system not only works for the absorption of nutrients and secretion, it also influences the immune system, defenses and regulation of hormones. Its maturation begins from gestation and The functionality is full around 5 years.

What is a food intolerance?

A food intolerance it is considered an adverse reaction to food. Adverse reactions to food are often frequent episodes in the general population. The most common are allergic processes and food intolerances.

But nevertheless, Food intolerances are 5-10 times more frequent than allergies. We are going to deepen them to know them better.

Food intolerance in children is related to enzyme deficiency that favor the digestion of certain nutrients. Due to this, it is impossible to metabolize food and its proper absorption and elimination.

How does a food intolerance appear in children?

One can suspect the presence of a food intolerance picture When a child has any of these symptoms:

  • Diarrhea or constipation. Both symptoms may appear indistinctly.
  • Abdominal discomfort or swelling. In the newborn baby it is more difficult to assess because it is associated with crying.
  • Gases. There are often frequent expulsions of intestinal gas and burping.
  • Vomiting. They may appear abruptly or more lightly. It is important to differentiate them from regurgitation.
  • Skin reactions. Small skin reactions often appear that suggest atopic dermatitis.

You may be interested: How to detect if we have gluten intolerance.

The most frequent food intolerances in children

Within the most frequent food intolerances they find each other:

  • Lactose intolerance. It is a disorder caused by a deficit of lactase, responsible for breaking down lactose. Its diagnosis is made requesting the elimination of all dairy products to the child and assessing their status.
  • Gluten intolerance. This alteration is better known as celiac disease. Gluten is found in commonly consumed cereals such as wheat, barley, rye or oats. To be able to diagnose this disease, a blood test can be done.

In the case of premature babies, it is important to take care a little and monitor the introduction of food and the possible symptomatology that these can cause.

Read also: What is celiac disease?

Is an intolerance the same as a food allergy?

The symptomatology that presents a picture of food intolerance in children it can be confused, in certain situations, with that of a food allergy.

Digestive symptoms also appear in food allergy. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are the most frequent, but they are also accompanied by affectations in other organs. Among the most affected organs is the cutaneous system, with the presence of urticaria.

Within the symptoms that need to be monitored are those associated with the respiratory system, such as:

  • Wheezing. These occur due to a narrowing of the airways.
  • Rhinitis. It affects the nasal mucosa and produces sneezing, itching, obstruction, nasal secretions and, sometimes, lack of smell.
  • Throat swelling.

It must be taken into account that The symptoms associated with food allergies are rapid onset. The association of several symptoms that affect different organs should be reason to go to an emergency service.