Rice can trigger severe allergic reaction in children

Rice is usually considered to be a ‘hypoallergenic’ food that settles the stomach, but research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, suggests that it can actually trigger a severe allergic reaction.

The Australian researchers base their findings on 31 infants less than 12 months old with severe gut inflammation caused by their dietary intake of protein, known as food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome. The severity of the symptoms, which include diarrhoea and/or vomiting a couple of hours after eating the trigger food, often prompt a misdiagnosis of blood poisoning (sepsis) or an acute abdominal problem requiring emergency surgery. Common culprits are cow’s milk and soy protein but vegetables, meats, and grains may also cause problems.

The 31 children had episodes on 56 occasions over a period of 16 years at one children’s hospital. Cow’s milk and soy proteins accounted for 30 of these episodes in 10 and seven children, respectively. But by far the most common trigger was rice, which accounted for 26 episodes in 14 children and was the sole trigger for 9 children.

On average, the child endured the symptoms on four occasions before the syndrome was correctly diagnosed. And the symptoms were more severe than those caused by cow’s milk or soy proteins. Four out of 10 children for whom rice was the trigger required resuscitation with intravenous fluids. This compares with one in six of those for whom cow’s milk or soy proteins were the triggers.

Rice, recommended as one of a child’s first solid foods, has become a staple in Australia, with per capita consumption doubling between 1994 and 2004 alone.

SOURCE: Archives of Disease in Childhood, online October 28, 2008.

More research on infant and child

First Published in October 2008

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