Severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock in babies

An allergy is the body’s unexpected reaction to something it has come into contact with. Your baby may be allergic to cow’s milk, plant pollen, animal hair, insect stings or specific drugs. As you wean your baby you may find they are allergic to specific foods, such as fruit, shellfish and nuts.

A severe allergic reaction can develop within just a few seconds. It can be very frightening if your baby has an allergic reaction and it can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.

Watch our video - what to do if your baby has a severe allergic reaction

What to look for – severe allergic reaction in babies

These are the possible signs of a severe allergic reaction:

  • • Red, itchy raised rash (also called weals or hives)
  • • Itchy, watery eyes
  • • Swelling of the face or lips
  • • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • • Their breathing may become difficult or wheezy
  • • They may become pale or be very flushed
  • • They may become agitated

What to do – severe allergic reaction in babies

If you think your baby is having an allergic reaction, you need to get help as soon as possible.

Call for help Give them their medicationSit your baby on your lap and lean them forward to help their breathing

1. Dial 999/112 straight away. Tell them you think your baby is having a severe allergic reaction and what might have caused it.

2. If you already know what your baby is allergic to and have medication to treat an allergic reaction, give it to them as you have been instructed.

3. Sit them on your lap leaning forwards slightly, to help their breathing while you are waiting for help. If they appear to be in shock, lie them down.

4. If they become unresponsive and are no longer breathing normally be prepared to start CPR.

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