Australian researchers have found that rice, usually considered a "hypoallergenic" food, can actually trigger an allergic reaction in children, producing symptoms more severe than those caused by cow's milk or soy proteins.
The study, to be published in the Annals of Disease in Childhood, based its findings on 31 infants under 12 months old with severe gut inflammation induced by their dietary intake of protein.
The severity of the symptoms, which include diarrhoea and/or vomiting a couple of hours after eating the trigger food, often prompt a misdiagnosis of blood poisoning (sepsis) or an acute abdominal problem requiring emergency surgery.
Common culprits are cow's milk and soy protein, but vegetables, meats and grains may also cause problems. Rice was found to be the most common trigger by far, and four out of the 10 children for whom rice was the trigger required resuscitation with intravenous fluids.