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Is Watermelon a Common Allergenic Food for Toddlers?

by Mary Strain, studioD

Watermelon isn't one of the most common food allergies in toddlers. In fact, fruits in general don't usually trigger allergic reactions in children. The BabyCenter website states that while it's possible that a child may be allergic to anything, a suspected food allergy is, on medical evaluation, often revealed to be something else. According to AskDrSears.com, only 3 to 7 percent of children and adults actually have food allergies.

Most Common Allergenic Foods

The BabyCenter website identifies eight culprit foods that it says are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies: eggs, peanuts, milk, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish such as crab, lobster and shrimp. However, the Children's Hospital at Westmead states that watermelon is a likely culprit in children with fruit allergies; they react to a protein found inside the melon, and can also react to that same protein in other plants, such as ragweed. The site adds, however, that although 3 percent of adolescents have fruit or vegetable allergies, they are less common in young children.

Common Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms of food allergy in a toddler can include hives, swelling, runny nose, watery eyes or trouble breathing within two hours of eating the offending food. A common symptom of fruit allergy is oral allergy syndrome, which includes itching, tingling and swelling of the lips, palate and tongue, according to the Children's Hospital at Westmead. Abdominal pain and vomiting are other possible fruit allergy symptoms.

Emergency Symptoms

Even if your toddler's first reaction to an allergenic food was mild, the next one might be more severe. If you suspect that your child is having a severe allergic reaction -- defined by the BabyCenter website as "...trouble breathing, swelling of the face or lips, or...severe vomiting or diarrhea after eating" -- call 911 immediately, as a severe reaction can cause a child's airway to close up "within minutes."

Foods Containing Watermelon

Your toddler may be exposed to watermelon in many ways. Watermelon is sometimes hidden in fruit salads, and watermelon pulp and juice may be used in smoothies, blended juice drinks, sorbet or ice pops. Even relish, pickles and salsa are sometimes made from watermelon rind, and some candies are made with watermelon juice.

About the Author

Mary Strain's first byline appeared in "Scholastic Scope Magazine" in 1978. She has written continually since then and has been a professional editor since 1994. Her work has appeared in "Seventeen Magazine," "The War Cry," "Young Salvationist," "Fireside Companion," "Leaders for Today" and "Creation Illustrated." She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

Photo Credits

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