Food allergies

Some children react to foods they have eaten.

If it is a food allergy they have a reaction every time the food is eaten. The most common food allergies are cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish and wheat. Food allergies are more common if there is a family history of them.

Most children grow out of their allergies, but for some this may take many years. Symptoms can be mild to severe, can start rapidly or be gradual or delayed.

Signs of a food allergy are:

  • runny nose, sneezing, asthma, coughing or wheezing
  • skin problems (itching and rashes)
  • stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or colic-like symptoms
  • swelling lips, mouth, tongue, face, and/or throat (this needs urgent medical attention)
  • dizziness, difficulty breathing, and collapsing (this needs urgent medical attention).

Delaying the introduction of solid food until around 6 months may delay or reduce the symptoms of food allergies.

There is not enough evidence that delaying the introduction of foods that commonly cause food allergies beyond the normal time they are introduced acts to prevent the allergies. A new food should be added only every 2 to 4 days as this gives time to notice any reaction.

If a child develops symptoms of an allergy they need to see their GP. If the reaction is severe act immediately and call 111.

For more information on food allergies, talk to Allergy New Zealand - raising the awareness of allergies in New Zealand. A useful reference may be the Manufactured Food Database, which has been compiled by Nutrition Services, Auckland City Hospital from information voluntarily supplied by New Zealand food manufacturers.



For help and advice call PlunketLine 0800 933 922, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If your child is sick please call Healthline, 0800 611 116, New Zealand's 24-hour telephone health advice service. All calls are answered by registered nurses.
In an emergency phone 111.
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