What is a food allergy?
In case of food allergy, your immune system reacts to the proteins in certain foods. These proteins are called allergens. The most common food allergies in children in the Netherlands are milk, egg, peanut, nuts, soy, fish and wheat.
What is the difference between allergy and intolerance?
- The immune system plays a role in food allergy, not food intolerance. In the case of a food allergy, the immune system goes into attack mode, which is why you usually develop symptoms soon after eating the food.
- Intolerance is a collective term for reactions to food that are not allergic in nature. For example, lactose intolerance, in which the body has difficulty digesting milk sugars, and gluten intolerance (celiac disease). Symptoms here are often gastrointestinal symptoms that may only appear much later in life, making it often difficult to recognise an intolerance.
The number of children with food allergies doubled in the last ten years
An increasing number of children suffer from food allergies. About 7% of all children in the Netherlands have a food allergy. This number has doubled in the last ten years!
But how does this happen? Several elements can affect getting a food allergy.
Eczema is the most significant risk factor for developing a food allergy
Many people think that eczema is a reaction to a food allergy, but this is actually the opposite.
In fact, scientific studies have discovered that babies can become allergic through their skin.
So, if your Mini suffers from eczema, the allergens (such as peanuts) can enter through the cracked skin. Your Mini's immune system does not understand this and immediately starts producing antibodies.
If you then give the peanut via the correct route (i.e., via the gastrointestinal tract), your Mini can have an allergic reaction!
This is why giving your baby allergens early on is so important
Most babies get eczema when they are about four months old. If you make sure you start giving allergens at that time in the right way, i.e., through food, your Mini's body will understand that it is "good".
Even for infants without eczema, the advice is to start early with allergens
For babies with eczema, it is important to start giving peanuts and eggs before they are six months old. And for all other children, the general advice from the Netherlands Nutrition Centre and consultation office is to start giving peanut and egg before the age of 8 months.
After that, it's important to keep giving peanut and egg weekly for six months to prevent your Mini from eventually becoming allergic after all.
80% of peanut & egg allergies can be prevented!
Recent scientific studies (EAT, LEAP, PETIT, NL Peanut) show that giving allergens (such as peanut and egg) early and often dramatically reduces the risk of a food allergy.
Possibly early introduction of milk also works preventively
Early introduction to milk may also work preventively
The above scientific studies were done on peanut and egg, but perhaps an early introduction to milk also works preventively.
A 2020* study concluded that giving a small amount of cow's milk daily (in addition to breastfeeding) may reduce the risk of later cow's milk allergy. Further studies have yet to support this, but the initial evidence exists.
Since the protein structure of cow's milk and goat's milk is similar in many ways **; this conclusion could also be made for goat's milk.
85% of babies outgrow milk allergy
Milk allergy is the most common allergy in babies. But there's good news: about 85% outgrow this allergy before they are 5! For peanut and nuts, it is only 20%.
How do I know if my child is allergic?
Your child may have a reaction after eating a certain type of food. There is a difference between an acute reaction and a later reaction.
- An acute reaction here refers to an IgE-mediated response, where a reaction of the immune system occurs. Symptoms occur immediately after eating (between 1 minute and 2 hours) and usually consist of the following:
- skin reactions (especially hives/hives or facial swelling)
- red, watery eyes
- runny nose
- wheezing, inhalation or exhalation.
- A later response only follows after 2 hours, the next day, or even later. This is not a sign of an IgE-mediated allergy but is, of course, also incredibly annoying for you and your Mini. The most common symptoms are skin rashes or abdominal pain/cramps.
If you think your child is allergic, you can keep a food diary to check what the reaction might be caused by, especially if it is a later reaction, as this can be quite a puzzle. After all, cramps are not uncommon...
Always call your GP or consultation bureau to discuss this and possibly find out further.
Vini Mini: The healthy, easy and reliable way to give allergens to your baby
We are Laurie Lancee and Jozien Boersma, and together we founded Vini Mini. Our world changed when we became mothers, especially when Viggo, Laurie's little son, suffered a severe allergic reaction when he was six months old. Fortunately, by giving allergens early and often, we were able to prevent a food allergy in Viggo.
As a result, Vini Mini was born because we believe that every Mini has the right to a happy, healthy and carefree life without food allergies.
With our supplements, we want to help parents give allergens to their Mini in a healthy, easy and reliable way. The supplement can easily be added to their vegetable or fruit snack.
First of all, we have created a test - in collaboration with a paediatric allergist - to determine which product is best for your Mini. After answering a few questions about age, family predisposition, previous reactions and eczema, you can tell whether it is best to give your Mini the first peanut in three or six smaller steps.
To do this, you can start with our “My first peanut" in 3 (or 6) steps where you give increasing amounts of peanut to your Mini to see if there is a reaction to peanut.
If this goes well, you can continue with our "My first peanut" Follow-up Kit, where you add a scoop of peanut to your Mini's snack every week for six months.
Start giving peanuts to your Mini today!
Would you like to start giving peanuts to your Mini? First, do our test to see which products are most suitable for your Mini.
If you still have questions, we are happy to help! You can contact us at: email@example.com.
*Sakihara T, Otsuji K, Arakaki Y, Hamada K, Sugiura S, Ito K, Randomised
trial of early infant formula introduction to prevent cow's milk allergy, Journal of Allergy and Clinical
Immunology (2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2020.08.021 .
- Food Allergy Foundation
- Allergen Consultancy
- Nutrition Centre
- DAVO dieticians