WITH one in 10 infants affected by food allergies, health experts say education and awareness are key to avoiding food triggers.
Marking Food Allergy Week, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia is encouraging everyone to paint one fingernail out of 10.
The company says that life threatening allergic reactions in children under five had increased fivefold over the past 10 years in Australia.
CQUniversity senior lecturer in psychology Karena Burke said it was important for families to show solidarity when a child was diagnosed with a food allergy.
"The work I have done deals with how families cope with the lifestyle changes that they have to make," she said.
"(that's) whether they change things for the child individually or across the board in the household."
Dr Burke said her research had shown that the type of change depended on the age of the child and the severity of the allergy.
"If they are anaphylactic then you need to make changes within the whole family environment," Dr Burke said.
"What we tend to find is that younger kids themselves are better off when the whole family is on board because it helps them adjust."
Dr Burke said children diagnosed at a younger age tended to adjust their lifestyle better than those in adolescence.
"A child diagnosed later in life is much more likely to rebel against the changes and restrictions placed on them," she said. One of the theories behind the growing number of child related allergies was that children were growing up in more sanitised environments.
Dr Burke said there might ay be some potential truth to that hypothesis but evidence was not conclusive as we might simply be more aware of allergies than we had been in the past.
"Children 30 or 50 years ago may have had an allergic reaction and died from it without knowing the true cause," she said. Now we are diagnosing it much earlier and medically can recognise those symptoms."
- Tree nuts
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction and is potentially life threatening.
It must be treated as an emergency, and requires urgent treatment.
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