The Top 8 Allergens for Kids
  /   Dr. John Snow

The Top 8 Allergens for Kids

Food allergies in children can be especially scary for parents and caregivers, with an unpredictable nature and risk of severe reactions. The good news is that you can take steps to identify and eliminate the culprits from your kid’s diet. 

But what are the top 8 allergens that cause most food allergies?

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an abnormal response to specific foods. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. 

With a kid's allergy to food, your child’s immune system mistakes a specific food as a harmful invader. So, it kicks into action, trying to combat the threat by releasing several chemicals. It’s these chemicals that cause allergy symptoms in kids and adults.

According to the CDC, 4.4% of children under 5 have a food allergy, with the number increasing as children get older. From 1997 to 2011, food allergies in children rose by a whopping 50%, with peanut allergies more than tripling between 1997 and 2017. 

Remember that food intolerances and food allergies are very different conditions. A food allergy is an immune response where even a tiny amount of food may trigger symptoms. A food intolerance affects the digestive system. 

What causes food allergies?

The precise cause of food allergies isn’t fully understood yet, but it’s thought certain factors may play a role in the risk of food allergies

Whether it’s toddler allergies or reactions in an older child, food allergies can occur at any age, with most presenting in early childhood. Some common childhood allergies kids may outgrow are wheat, soy, and egg. But, other allergies like peanuts, tree nuts, and seafood tend to persist into adulthood.  

When an individual with a food allergy eats that specific food, the body produces an immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody. When you eat the same food again, the IgE antibodies recognize it and jump into action to fight it off, releasing the chemical histamine and causing an allergic reaction. 

What foods most often cause food allergies in kids?

The following foods are considered the top major food allergens. They typically account for the most common child allergies. 


A cow’s milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children and babies, affecting about 2-3% of infants. 

Research suggests that the rate at which children outgrow a milk allergy is slower than experts initially thought. One study found that 53% of children outgrew their milk allergy by age 2. However, other studies report that only 19% of children age 4 outgrew their allergy. Many children with a milk allergy may outgrow it, but this will depend on the individual and the severity of the allergy. 

It’s easy to confuse a milk allergy and lactose intolerance, but they are different. A milk allergy is an immune system response to milk proteins. Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder caused by a lack of lactase enzymes, meaning you struggle to process lactose (the sugar in milk). In this case, milk intolerance can result in gastrointestinal symptoms. 


An egg allergy is another common food allergy in children, with 1.3% of children under 5 having an egg allergy. Some kids can be allergic to egg yolks, whites, or both. In some cases, children would also need to remove egg-containing foods from their diet; however, for others, they may be able to eat baked goods containing eggs. 

Again, some kids can outgrow an egg allergy, with one study showing that 68% of children with an allergy to eggs outgrow it by the time they are 16.  


Peanut allergies are known for their potential to cause life-threatening and severe reactions. Nearly 2.5% of children may have a peanut allergy. It’s common for peanut allergies to persist into adulthood. However, research shows that about 20% of children with a peanut allergy may outgrow it.  

Like other allergies, treatment for a peanut allergy involves avoiding peanuts and peanut-containing products. This can also include not eating foods made in the same factory where cross-contamination from peanuts could be risky. That’s why at Hiya, all our products are manufactured in a facility that is completely free of peanuts, adhering to the highest standards of cleanliness. 

Tree Nut

A tree nut allergy is an allergy to nuts and seeds from trees. Peanut and tree nut allergies are different, as peanuts are legumes, not nuts. 

Tree nuts include:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Chestnuts
  • Pine nuts

If your child has a tree nut allergy, they also won’t be able to eat foods made with these nuts, like nut butter and oils. The general advice is that if you’re allergic to even one tree nut, you should avoid all types of tree nuts. An allergy to one tree nut increases the risk of developing other tree nut allergies. 

While Hiya ingredients contain refined coconut oil powder to help sweeten the vitamins without added sugar, coconut isn’t classed as a tree nut and is considered safe for kids. 


About 0.5% of children have a soy allergy, which is more common in infants and children under three years old. Many infants may outgrow their allergy, with evidence suggesting nearly 70% of kids outgrow it by ten years old.  

Foods containing soy include: 

  • Tofu
  • Soy milk
  • Soy yogurt 
  • Soy sauce
  • Edamame
  • Tempeh
  • Soybean oil
  • Soy nuts
  • Soy-based meat alternatives
  • Soy lecithin 

It’s important to know that research suggests that those with a soy allergy are more likely to be sensitized or allergic to the major allergens, including peanuts.  


In many cases, kids may outgrow a wheat allergy. One study found that wheat was tolerated in 84% and 96% of children aged 10 and 16, respectively. Other research suggests that 80% of children outgrow wheat allergy by age 5, but the rate appears slower and lower in children with food allergies and atopic dermatitis. 

While celiac disease and a wheat allergy both involve components of wheat, they are two distinct conditions. Celiac disease is an illness where an individual has an adverse immune response to gluten, causing a range of symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain. A wheat allergy is an immune response to the proteins in wheat and can affect the whole body. 

Remember that gluten-free foods are often wheat-free, but it’s not guaranteed. Additionally, cross-contamination can occur, so always read food labels to double-check. 


Fish allergies are not as common as other food allergies and are often seen in early childhood allergies. With a fish allergy, it is typically referring to finned fish like tuna and salmon. Although crustaceans are seafood, someone with a crustacean allergy wouldn't necessarily have an allergy to fish. It’s possible to be allergic to one fish or one group of fish. 

In addition to whole fish, you can also find fish in foods like: 

  • Worcester sauce 
  • Fish gelatin 
  • Fish stock/broths
  • Fish oil (like Omega 3 supplements and some fortified foods) 

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

You may spot an allergic reaction almost immediately, within a few minutes, or in a couple of hours. Like any allergy, common allergenic foods may cause mild symptoms initially, but that doesn’t mean that all reactions to the same food will be the same. 

Here are some symptoms of food allergies, from mild to severe. 

Mild to moderate symptoms:

  • Skin reactions: hives, eczema (itchy, red, and inflamed skin), itchy skin or rash
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramps
  • Respiratory symptoms: sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, watery or itchy eyes
  • Oral symptoms: itchy or tingling feeling in the mouth, swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips  

Severe symptoms:

  • Cardiovascular symptoms: rapid or weak pulse, low blood pressure
  • Respiratory distress: shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty breathing
  • Systemic symptoms: generalized hives or rash, swelling of the face (including eyes and lips), swelling of the throat (leading to difficulty swallowing or speaking)
  • Gastrointestinal distress: severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, and loss of consciousness
  • Anaphylactic shock: loss of consciousness, severe drop in blood pressure, and respiratory failure

As you can see, allergic reactions can vary significantly in severity and where they present around the body. In the same way, an allergic reaction looks different in individuals, the amount of food that triggers a response can also differ. Some may be highly sensitive to even the smallest amount of food. As little as 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel can be enough to cause an allergic reaction in those with severe allergies.  

Are there treatments for food allergies?

There is currently no cure for food allergies, and often, the strategy for treatment is strict avoidance. That means reading food labels, cutting out certain foods, asking about restaurant ingredients, and being cautious of cross-contamination. 

The law requires that any food containing one of the major common food allergens be clearly labeled. This also includes products containing sesame as of January 2023. Also, watch out for statements like “may contain [allergen] or “produced in a facility that also uses [allergen].” These statements are voluntary, so be careful, as not all manufacturers choose to use them.  

After speaking to your child’s doctor and identifying foods your child is allergic to, it is crucial to avoid these foods. If you are breastfeeding, small amounts of food allergens may be transmitted, which is something to be mindful of. 

For any child with a severe food reaction, alongside avoiding foods, your child may be prescribed emergency medication, like epinephrine (epi-pen). For instance, if there’s a risk of anaphylaxis, the medication reverses symptoms and prevents anaphylaxis during an allergic reaction. 

In some cases, your healthcare provider may give your child certain foods to see if they have outgrown an allergy. This would be entirely done under medical supervision in a safe environment. 

Children with food allergies may be on a more restrictive diet, so it’s important to speak to your doctor about giving your child vitamins and minerals to fill in any nutritional gaps. 

How to prevent food allergies in kids

Ultimately, it’s not always possible to completely stop food allergies in kids. However, there are strategies you can implement to decrease the risk or delay the onset of allergies in children. 

  • Breastfeeding - breastfeeding for the first four to six months, if possible.  
  • Solid foods - introducing solid foods at six months or older. 

Experts recommend that when you start introducing solid foods, introduce foods that may cause a reaction in minimal amounts, only one at a time, so that you can watch for a response. 

If you have a family history or another child with a food allergy, or if your baby has other allergies, you will need to be especially careful. It’s always important to speak to your family doctor for guidance on preventing and identifying food allergies in kids

Steer Clear of Allergens with Hiya Vitamins and Minerals

At Hiya, we understand the importance of making sure your child gets all the vitamins and minerals they need, especially if they have allergies limiting their food choices. That's why our Kids Daily Essential supplement is designed to support your child's growth and development while reducing the risk of food reactions.

If you're curious about what goes into our supplements, you can learn more about our ingredients and production processes. All our products are free of all the major allergens, so you can be confident that your child is getting the nutrients they need. 


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