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Health Information For Parents
Soy is a common cause of food allergy. Soy comes from soybeans, which are in the legume family (along with beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts). Some people are allergic to just one type of legume; others are allergic to more than one.
When someone is allergic to soy, the body’s immune system, which normally fights infections, overreacts to proteins in soy. If the person eats something made with soy, the body thinks these proteins are harmful invaders and responds by working very hard to fight off the invader. This causes an allergic reaction.
Allergy to soy is more common in infants and kids than teens and adults, but can develop at any age.
When someone with a soy allergy has something with soy in it, the body releases chemicals like
. This can cause symptoms such as:
Allergic reactions to soy can differ. Sometimes the same person can react differently at different times. Most reactions to soy are mild and involve only one system of the body, like hives on the skin. Other times the reaction can be more severe and involve more than one part of the body.
Rarely, soy allergy can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis might start with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but can quickly get worse. The person may have trouble breathing or pass out. More than one part of the body might be involved. If it isn’t treated, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.
If your child has a soy allergy (or any kind of serious food allergy), the doctor will want him or her to carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency.
An epinephrine auto-injector is a prescription medicine that comes in a small, easy-to-carry container. It’s easy to use. Your doctor will show you how. Kids who are old enough can be taught how to give themselves the injection. If they carry the epinephrine, it should be nearby, not left in a locker or in the nurse’s office.
Wherever your child is, caregivers should always know where the epinephrine is, have easy access to it, and know how to give the shot. Staff at your child’s school should know about the allergy and have an action plan in place. Your child’s medicines should be accessible at all times.
Every second counts in an allergic reaction. If your child starts having serious allergic symptoms, like swelling of the mouth or throat or difficulty breathing, give the epinephrine auto-injector right away. Also give it right away if the symptoms involve two different parts of the body, like hives with vomiting. Then call 911 and take your child to the emergency room. Your child needs to be under medical supervision because even if the worst seems to have passed, a second wave of serious symptoms can happen.
It’s also a good idea to carry an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine for your child, as this can help treat mild allergy symptoms. Use
after — not as a replacement for — the epinephrine shot during life-threatening reactions.
If allergy testing shows that your child has a soy allergy, the doctor will give you guidelines on keeping your child safe. Your child may need to completely avoid products made with soy. This can be tough as soy has become part of many foods. For information on foods to avoid, check sites such as the Food Allergy Research and Education network (FARE).
Always read food labels to see if a food contains soy. Manufacturers of foods sold in the United States must state whether foods contain any of the top eight most common allergens, including soy. The label should list “soy” in the ingredient list or say “Contains soy” after the list.
Some foods look OK from the ingredient list, but while being made they can come in contact with soy. This is called cross-contamination. Look for advisory statements such as “May contain soy,” “Processed in a facility that also processes soy,” or “Manufactured on equipment also used for soy.” Not all companies label for cross-contamination, so if in doubt, call or email the company to be sure.
When eating away from home, make sure you have an epinephrine auto-injector with you and that it hasn’t expired. Also, tell the people preparing or serving your child’s food about the soy allergy. Sometimes, you may want to bring food with you that you know is safe. Don’t eat at the restaurant if the chef, manager, or owner seems uncomfortable with your request for a safe meal.
Also talk to the staff at school about cross-contamination risks for foods in the cafeteria. It may be best to pack lunches at home so you can control what’s in them.
Other things to keep in mind:
Food allergies can cause serious and even deadly reactions in kids, so it’s important to know how to feed a child with food allergies and to prevent reactions.
Food labels can help you spot allergens your child must avoid. Find out more.
Kids with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The good news is that when treated properly, anaphylaxis can be managed.
Shellfish allergy can cause serious reactions. Find out common symptoms of allergic reactions and how to respond.
Fish allergy can cause a serious reaction. Find out how to keep kids safe.
If your child is allergic to nuts or peanuts, it’s essential to learn what foods might contain them and how to avoid them.
Find more than 30 articles in English and Spanish about all aspects of food allergies in children.
Almost all infants are fussy at times. But some are very fussy because they have an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk, which is the basis for most commercial baby formulas.
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Taking precautions and carrying meds are just part of normal life for someone who has a food allergy. Here are some tips on how to make travel also feel perfectly routine.
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Quick action is essential during a serious allergic reaction. It helps to remind yourself of action steps so they become second nature if there’s an emergency. Here’s what to do.
A person with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This reaction can seem scary, but the good news is it can be treated.
Doctors are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with food allergies can make a big difference in preventing serious illness.
Struggling with strawberries? Petrified of peanuts? Sorry you ate shellfish? Maybe you have a food allergy. Find out more in this article for kids.
With food allergies, preventing a reaction means avoiding that food entirely. But sometimes allergens can be hidden in places you don’t expect. Here are tips on living with a food allergy.
Living with an egg allergy means you have to be aware of what you’re eating and read food labels carefully. Here are some tips for teens who have an egg allergy.
A growing number of kids are allergic to nuts and peanuts. Find out more about this problem and how allergic kids can stay healthy.
Doctors use several different types of allergy tests, depending on what a person may be allergic to. Find out what to expect from allergy tests.
Babies sometimes have an allergic reaction to eggs. If that happens, they can’t eat eggs for a while. But the good news is that most kids outgrow this allergy by age 5.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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