About 0.4% of American children are allergic to soy, so parents need to be aware of the potential for this allergy. Here are four things parents need to know about soy allergies.
What are the signs of soy allergies?
Generally, soy allergies produce only mild reactions. Your child may develop symptoms like hives, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after eating a food that contains soy. Cold-like symptoms like a stuffy nose may also be seen.
In severe cases, children can have an anaphylactic reaction to soy. Anaphylaxis symptoms include swelling of the oral tissues, constriction of the airways, a weak pulse, and fainting. This type of allergic reaction can be life-threatening; if your child suffers this reaction, get them immediate medical attention.
Where is soy found?
Soy can be found in a wide variety of foods, so you need to carefully check food labels before you feed your child. You probably already know that soy is found in soy sauce, edamame, and tofu, but soy is hiding in some unexpected places, too. Soy can be found in foods as diverse as canned tuna, peanut butter, and baked goods.
Fortunately for parents, any packaged food that contains soy is legally required to say "soy" in the ingredients list, so as long as you always read food labels, you can help your child avoid soy fairly easily.
How are soy allergies diagnosed?
There are two ways that pediatricians can diagnose soy allergies: skin tests and blood tests. After talking to your child about their symptoms, the pediatrician will decide which test to perform; in some cases, both tests are performed.
Skin tests are simple and involve pricking your child's skin and applying a small amount of soy protein to the wound. If a hive forms at the prick site, your child may be allergic to soy.
Blood tests involve taking a sample of your child's blood and sending it off to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory will check the blood for signs of antibodies to soy; if they are found, your child may be allergic to soy.
How are soy allergies managed?
The best way to manage your child's soy allergy is to keep them from eating foods that contain soy. Make sure to teach them how to avoid soy so that they can manage their allergy on their own when they get older.
The pediatrician may also give your child a prescription for antihistamines or an epinephrine autoinjector. These medications can help control an allergic reaction if your child accidentally eats soy.
If you think your child is allergic to soy, take them to their pediatrician right away.