Soya is found in a surprising number of foods, which can make avoiding it difficult. Here’s how to cope with bringing your child up on a soya-free diet
Soya allergies are relatively common in young children. However, experts believe that most children will grow out of them by the age of two. The symptoms of a soya allergy are similar those caused by a milk or dairy allergy, so at first, they can be hard to spot. They include rashes, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and breathing difficulties. In very rare cases, soya can cause anaphylactic shock.
The soya bean belongs to the legume family, which includes fresh and dried peas, beans, carob, liquorice and peanuts. However, if your child has a soya allergy, it’s unlikely that she’ll react to other legumes as well, so there’s no need to avoid all the foods in this group. Soya is increasingly used in the food processing industry to bulk out and bind food together, and to improve the shelf life of foods. It’s found in bakery goods, sweets, drinks, breakfast cereals, ice cream, margarine, pasta and processed meats, like sausages. Allergy UK estimates that soya can be found in 60 per cent of food products.The main ingredients that should be avoided if your child has a soya allergy are:
However, there are many other foods that contain soya in some form, so always check the list of ingredients carefully. Because soya is a potential allergen, European law requires it to be clearly listed on pre-packed foods for sale within the EU.
Soya-free products are widely available, and include soya-free cheese, cookies, bread, sausages, spreads and soya-free ice cream. Many baby foods are soya-free, but always double-check the packaging. Soya allergies often overlap with dairy allergies, so if your child is under one, your GP may prescribe a hypoallergenic formula. Otherwise, soya-free foods are not available on prescription.
Because soya is used so extensively in processed foods, it’st easy for a child to eat it without you realising. For example, crisps, pizza bases and breakfast cereals may all contain soya. For this reason, it’s worth getting familiar with the following terms that may indicate the presence of soya:
Avoiding soya can be hard, but when it comes to eating out, there are some steps you can take:
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