How to know your child has a food allergy

How to know your child has a food allergy
Peanuts are a common food allergy

Anne Marie Tiernon/ Eyewitness News

If it seems your child has a runny nose or digestive issues that just won't go away doctors say it likely isn't a cold. It may actually be food allergies.

At 12 years old Lalit Maharajan makes simple adjustments to avoid an allergic rash, like using a knife when cracking an egg and washing up afterward. But peanuts he avoids all together.

"If I ate peanuts I would have a very difficult time breathing and if I touch peanuts I get blisters and with raw eggs, my skin gets all red and stuff," said Lalit.

His diagnosis impacts the whole family. In fact, his young sister Sarita, is at the ready with an EPI pen if her brother is exposed.

"You have to put it in and you have to hear the click and then you count to ten and then you take it out and then you have to call 911," Sarita said.

Lalit was just three and at daycare when he first got violently ill. His mom has not forgotten that day.

"A mom brought a cookie from home that has peanut in it," said Basu Maharajan. "Minutes after he ate a piece of cookie, we were taken to Methodist hospital."

"Allergies can sneak up on the family," said Dr. Jerold Smith. The career pathologist says often allergies are not on the radar.

"I think the child that has a runny nose all of the time that is not a cold you don't have a cold all of the time you probably have allergy," Smith said. "The child that has chronic diarrhea may very well have certain food allergies that are just irritating the gut a little bit."

Common allergy symptoms are: respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, breathing, swelling in the throat, rashes and hives.

A blood test can indicate a reaction. Lalit scored very high, in fact, level 5 for peanut.

Milk, wheat, eggs, seafood, tree nuts and peanuts are the most common food allergies in kids and your child can have an issue in what seems like an instant.

"They've had peanuts before, but now all of sudden the peanuts will make them have a tightness in the throat or even break out in hives or get rashy around the mouth and it's become clear that they have developed an allergy to peanuts," Dr. Smith said.

Lalit's family is hoping for no more surprises. Their cupboard in Lawrence Township is now peanut free and the 6th grader is taking ownership.

"It's really scary because I have to be really careful what I eat. I always have to read the labels and most of the time if I can't get a label if I can't read the labels then I just can't eat it at all."

If you think your child has an allergy:

The gold standard for diagnosing a food allergy is a double blind placebo control test at the allergist.
Secondarily, there is a blood test called an IGE, that can indicate if there is an issue too.

If you have questions about allergies email: