How to Know If My Child Has a Food Allergy and to What Food?

Updated on November 15, 2011
J.W. asks from North Charleston, SC
11 answers

Hi Moms,
I have a child that throws up on average once to twice a month and it seems to come without notice. From infancy he would 'spit up'/throw up his milk everyday and the pediatricians have always brushed it off. He was nursed and me removing foods like peanuts and onions did seem to help. Now he is 3 and I'm still concerned about it potentially being a food allergy. As an infant he had a blood test to check for allergies and it came back normal. I talk to every new pediatrician I can and I am just shocked how this matter keeps getting brushed off. I recently found a new pediatrician who is willing to reconsider a food allergy but it is clear I need to be in the driver seat and I really don't know what direction to take. The pediatrician did say because he "only throws up about once a month" that he did not need a pediatric GI. Is it possible if it it's an allergy to something like milk could he tolerate some amounts but not too much? Last month I started tracking what he did eat only on the days he throws up. Any advice??? Thanks for your time!

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answers from Phoenix on

Don't just look at food. Also track other things going on. ANYTHING could trigger it. Is it right before/after a doctor visit, a visit to someone's house, someone coming over, a pet getting washed, a particular cleaning agent being used, a bug spray an exterminator might use, moon cycles (sounds weird but could contribute), etc. You get the idea, I hope. Food is the most likely trigger for throwing up, but it can also be a reaction to something else, physical-internally, environment, psychological, etc.

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answers from Raleigh on

As a mom with a child that has food allergies, my advice is to bypass the pediatrician and go straight to an allergist. With my son, he had severe allergies to multiple foods. While he has outgrown the egg allergy, he has developed more environmental allergies in the last year (he is 5) . So allergies can continue to develop as they age. Anyway, an allergist is sure to get you on the right track if anything does turn up. Hope this helps!

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answers from Spartanburg on

Just out of curiosity--when you gave birth, was it a C-section? Chances are, that increases your child's risk of developing acid reflux (or so I've heard), and it was definitely true in my case. Both of my twins had it--one had it mildly, the other case was a little worse. The one with the worse case would throw up on occasion & had a hard time nursing. My ped put them on Prevacid, which helped tremendously. It's something they grow out of--my kids were fine by age 3, but untreated it may go on longer? Just another suggestion as to what it may be, esp. if he was historically fussy as a baby around meal times.

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answers from Lexington on

Yes, this is possible! Allergies/sensitivities to foods can affect any body system, so there may be more inflammation and irritation going on than just the vomiting, and I wish so badly that I'd known more when my younger child was very young. Also, lactose intolerance would not show up as an allergy as it is an inability to digest the sugar - lactose, as opposed to reacting to the milk protein - casein.

The allergist did not help!!!! They only help if it is an IgE food allergy and not for an IgG or IgA food allergy! My allergist could not figure out my HIVES, and I only did after my kids had to get off gluten and dairy (in fact, one is so sensitive she eventually had to get off all standard grains). See here:

I strongly suggest Dr. Doris Rapp's book "Is this Your Child" even if the foods are not affecting brain function, as she has a lot of useful ideas and what to do about it. (See that website: and the book 'It's Not Mental' - - for what can happen in the long run).

Here is something to keep in mind with a food elimination trial:
1 - One nurse told me she saw one patient still reacting to a food (hives in that case) for FOUR weeks after the food was discontinued, so you need to do it long enough.
2- There can be multiple foods being reacted to.

And lastly, you may need to take measures to heal his gut (

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answers from Chicago on

Vomiting because of reactions to things isn't the same as having an allergic reaction. Allergies usually are accompanied by hives, breathing issues and serious itching. The vomiting only comes during a sever reaction when body parts swell up and it's obvious the kid is struggling for his/her life. You never want to see a sever reaction.

If you are concerned, go have another blood work up.

My son had a milk allergy for the first 1.5 year of his life. It was weird, though, he would swell up and have horrible reactions to uncooked milk protein, but with cooked milk protein he was fine. It was very apparent when he ate something that he reacted too, even in the smallest amounts. He now has a peanut allergy. His face will get hives if his sister kisses him and she just ate something with nuts in it.

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answers from Norfolk on

It's very possible that he has allergies. Yes, it could be that he can tolerate a food but only up to a certain point. My daughter can tolerate up to 1 1/2 tsp of milk but once we get to 2 tsp she has a reaction. Did you notice a trend when you started tracking what he ate on days he threw up? My daughter was doing the same. It took me a while to figure out that she's allergic to eggs. When she eats something with egg (if it's not extensively heated ie: baked) she vomits. She never has any other reaction, no hives, no swelling, no trouble breathing at all. At first I thought it was a food sensitivity but her allergist confirmed that it was in fact an allergy. A child can also test differently for allergies as they age so just because as an infant he was free and clear of allergies doesn't mean he is now! If your pediatrician isn't giving you the support you need GO AROUND THEM! I found that my pediatrician doesn't understand allergies as well as I would've thought so I skipped her and went straight to the allergist for answers. So glad I did. It certainly could be other things but why not just go and see? Maybe allergies will be something you can rule out and move onto the next thing it might be. You're his mother and your gut is telling you something is wrong. Keep plugging till you find it. Intuition isn't engrained in us for nothing :) Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

My son has severe nut and various food allergies and sensitivities. After, he ate a Reeses Piece and started choking and gagging, we immediately got the allergen Ige blood test. (The allergen-specific IgE antibody test is a blood test used to screen for an allergy to a specific substance or substances if a person presents with acute or chronic allergy-like symptoms. This is especially true if symptoms are recurrent and appear to be tied to triggers, such as exposures to particular foods or environments, and if other family members are known to have allergies.)

There is another test where the Allergist pokes tiny dots of various allergens on the childs back for a reaction.

Just like the other moms said, go straight to an Allergist if your insurance allows it. Also note, if you make an appointment with an Allergist that your child should not take any allergy meds the week prior.

Good luck, I hope you figure it out soon.

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answers from Des Moines on

From the sounds of it I'd wonder more about reflux than allergies.

Does he seem sick/painful/ uncomfortable or does he just throw up and go about his business?

It could also be something unique to him too. I can't eat eggs in the morning. I can eat the evening just fine but if I eat eggs in the morning there's about a 25% chance I'll vomit. It's just one of those weird things....

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answers from Madison on

If you take your son to a naturopathic doctor, they can help you get tests taken that will look at food allergies and food intolerances. Allopathic doctors usually do not do any testing or looking for this, because as far as they're concerned, food DOESN'T make people sick. Yes, they are actually taught this in medical school, and out of all of the class time a doctor has to prepare to be a doctor, they have exactly ONE DAY to be taught/learn about nutrition and how it affects the body. I almost cried when I heard that. Another reason allopathic doctors usually don't test for these conditions is because the insurance companies DO NOT PROVIDE codes for them to use to get reimbursed for doing any testing. Therefore, if no insurance codes exist--they can't do the testing. Because they aren't going to do the testing for free! And most people can't afford the cost of allopathic lab tests.

I myself went to a naturopathic doctor four years ago and was tested and discovered that I have casein allergy (to cow dairy); severe soy and gluten intolerances; and intolerances to a whole bunch of other foods. It wasn't very expensive to have the tests done, either (actually, I found it to be quite cheap). One was a saliva test and one was a blood test.

Good luck.

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answers from Houston on

There is a blood test that can be done to test for food sensitivities. Here's a website:
An allergy is an IGe reaction. A sensitivity is an IGg reaction. Yes it can cause a build up of toxins and cause vomiting. Hope he gets some relief! BTW, I think u can find a doctor to do this from this website, but it's usually an alternative doctor like a chiropractor. Our chiro did ours, and insurance paid for it.

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answers from Kansas City on

Forget the pediatrician and take your son to an allergy doctor. They can do a blood test, or skin allergy test for other things.

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