"Pediatric skin care products may represent a previous unsuspected source of exposure for children with food allergies. We recommend that parents read ingredient labels on the products they choose for their children," said Children's Memorial Hospital doctor Kelly Newhall.
Newhall and colleagues collected 293 lotions, creams, oils, and other skin care products intended for children to evaluate how often ingredients from foods were included.
Of the products examined, 26 percent contained a common allergenic food, including cow milk, soy, hydrolyzed soy, wheat, egg, and tree nut.
The products tested included soaps, shampoos, creams, diaper ointments, wipes, breast creams, powders, baby oils, and miscellaneous products, such as body glitter, sunscreen, and hair detangler.
"Physicians who counsel children with food allergies to avoid exposure to these foods may not be aware that certain skin care products could put them at risk. There have been some reports of allergic reactions in the medical literature, such as a child sensitive to milk who reacted to a diaper cream containing milk proteins," said Newhall.
The research concluded that 14 per cent of the skin products examined contained tree nuts - such as pecans or almonds - 5.1 per cent contained wheat, 3.8 percent contained cow milk and 8.9 per cent contained hydrolyzed soy.
Lotions, creams and baby oils were among the most likely to contain a common food allergen, while wipes were the least likely. In addition, higher priced products were also more likely to contain a common food allergen, most often high-priced diaper ointments and baby oils.
No products contained eggs or peanuts, although two contained peanut oil.