Potato allergy

Most food-induced allergic reactions in children can be explained by allergies to cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, fish and wheat. Raw potatoes have also been known to cause allergic reactions in both children and adults, but a Belgian study has now found a link between cooked white potatoes and severe allergy symptoms.

In this small but well-designed study, researchers looked at eight children, aged from 3.5 months to two years, who experienced a range of reactions to potato, including immediate vomiting and wheezing.

It was not clear which particular allergen triggered the children's symptoms, since all but one child reacted to several different proteins. Those children with allergy to cooked potato also tended to have a strong reaction to raw potato, yet some of those who were allergic to raw potato were able to tolerate potato when cooked.

Six of the children in the study subsequently experienced an improvement in their eczema after being put on a potato-free diet and, reassuringly, seven of the eight children studied had outgrown their allergy to cooked potato by six years of age.

Allergy to potato is therefore another possibility that parents should consider when young children develop eczema or other allergic symptoms and it is worth remembering that potato proteins may be hidden in a large number of foods so, as always, careful scrutiny of labels is essential.

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First published in June 2007

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