Food Intolerance

By Dr Evelyn Lewin

Food is an important source of nutrition and enjoyment for most children. However, some foods can cause health problems in certain children. These health problems can range from severe reactions such as anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction), to milder health issues. Allergic reactions are caused by a heightened immune response and can be deadly if left untreated. On the milder side, children can be intolerant to certain foods. This means that eating certain foods causes an unpleasant reaction. In certain intolerances, such as gluten intolerance (Coeliac’s disease), these reactions can lead to further health problems if left untreated. The NSW Food Authority lists the most common foods that cause intolerance as being milk and lactose (the sugar found in milk), gluten, wheat, food preservatives and sulphites. According to the NSW Food Authority, surveys suggest up to 25% of the population believe they have a food intolerance.


Symptoms of food intolerance can vary. Symptoms may include stomach upset, bloating, nausea, diarrhoea or constipation. Your child may also develop a rash. Children may also become more irritable after eating foods to which they are intolerant. Examples of behaviour affected by Food Intolerance's include (but are not limited too) ADHD, AUTISM, BEHAVIOURAL ISSUES.


The first step is to consider whether your child may have a food intolerance. This can be difficult, as symptoms relating to food intolerance are often ‘vague’. Furthermore, symptoms may not appear immediately after the food is ingested. If you suspect your child has a food intolerance you should see your GP or an Integrative Medical Practitioner from NIIM or ACNEM. They will most probably do put your child on an elimination diet and do a range of blood analysis. An accredited practicing dietitian can help ensure their dietary needs remain adequately met.

We recommend as a great resource for parents of children who may have food allergies or intolerances.

Reviewed by Dr Evelyn Lewin 11 June 2015 references
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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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