Intolerance or Allergy?

There is a difference between an intolerance and an allergy. We'll go over the differences and how to deal with them the best way possible. 


The differences

Whether your child suffers from an intolerance or an allergy, it can only be determined with certainty by a visit to the doctor.

If there is an intolerance, the intestine is simply not able to digest certain components of the food. This manifests into a hypersensitivity reaction such as diarrhea or flatulence. The reason for example can be a lack of certain digestive enzymes or a metabolic disease. As a result, the undigested food component reaches the large intestine, where it is broken down by intestinal bacteria. Example: milk intolerance due to lactose intolerance.

An allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction caused by the immune system to certain allergens, i.e. substances. When eating or coming into contact with the relevant allergen, the immune system may react against it, e.g. respiratory problems, skin reactions (rashes and pustules), diarrhea or vomiting. The body has made antibodies against the allergen and treats it like a pathogen. Examples: nut or soy allergy.

Stay Calm

If your child has a stomachache, it does not necessarily have to be an allergy or intolerance. The stomachache can have a completely harmless cause such as flatulence. If you have any concerns, you should stay calm and seek advice from your doctor.



Allergy check: is my child at risk of allergies?

The allergy risk is often familial, i.e. genetic, and can be inherited. Children whose direct family members suffer from an allergy are particularly at risk of allergies e.g. house dust, animal hair. A blood test can only tell whether your child has an allergy. Only after a medical diagnosis can you safely assume an allergy.

The following questions can be a guide:

  1. Does at least one of the parents suffer from neurodermatitis, hay fever, allergic asthma or an allergy to food, animal hair, house dust mites or pollen?
  2. Does one of the siblings suffer from one of the allergies mentioned?
  3. Do cats live in your household? (Cats, especially if they already live in the household, are not considered a risk at first. Only if there is a family history, the purchase of a cat should be avoided)
  4. Does mother or father smoke in or around the home?
  5. Are there any mold problems in the house?

If you cannot answer any of the questions with a "yes", there is no increased risk of allergies for your baby. If your answer is “yes” to one or more questions, then we speak of an increased risk of allergies.

My child is at risk of allergies. What should I do?

If your baby is at risk of allergies, it is advisable to exclusively breastfeed for the first 4–6 months. Because breast milk is naturally low in allergens and contains valuable protective substances for a healthy intestinal flora.

If your baby is not breastfed, it should be fed with as little allergen as possible, e.g. with a special hypoallergenic baby food such as Töpfer HA food. This contains high-quality and well-tolerated milk protein, which has been broken down into smaller protein components in a gentle process. If you are unsure or have any questions, speak to your pediatrician, an allergist or your midwife.


Complementary food for allergy-prone babies

Our recommendations for introducing complementary foods also apply to children at risk of allergies. That means: At the earliest at the beginning of the 5th month and at the latest at the beginning of the 7th month it is time for the first porridge. A later introduction of complementary foods does not offer any protection against allergies. Furthermore, you do not have to avoid foods that are often allergenic in your child. The waiver does not provide any evidence of allergy protection. Fish, on the other hand, is very suitable for feeding allergy-prone children.

More Guidance Pages

[Translate to English:]

Midwife tips against frequent spitting up

Spitting up often begins towards the end of the first month of life, when the portions of milk become larger. Small tricks can help against this.