New advice on allergic foods for babies
Doctors advise not to delay the introduction of eggs and other highly allergic foods to babies.
Introducing your baby to solids is an
exciting time in any parent’s life. With that first smattering of butternut and
then a taste of pear, babies tend to get on board pretty quickly. As they go on
their tastes get more complex and soon parents start wondering what else they
can include in their child’s ever growing diet.
There’s not much that babies can’t eat. Dr
Claudia Gray, a specialist in paediatric allergy, advises to "start for the
first few weeks with "safe, easily digested low allergenic" foods
such as butternut, sweet potato, rice cereal, maize cereal, apple and pear
purée. Wheat and dairy can be introduced between 5 and 7 months. The ideal is
to cover the start of solids with ongoing breastfeeding which seems to have a
further protective effect."
By 9 months, my son is eating pretty
much what we eat at meals. Of course we’re wary of added salt but there are
other things that I needed to do a bit of research on. Many family members warned against giving egg
whites and peanut butter before my son was 1 years old. So I was very nervous
about giving him these things.
New advice for parents
But according to the American
Academy of Pediatrics “Although solid foods should not be introduced before
4 to 6 months of age, there is no current convincing evidence that delaying
their introduction beyond this period has a significant protective effect on
the development of allergies. This includes delaying the introduction of foods
that are considered to be highly allergic, such as fish, eggs, and foods
containing peanut protein.”
We asked Dr Gray for her opinion on this
new research and she echoes what the AAP had to say and offered the following advice:
“After 6 months there is no need for any
restrictions: so even highly allergenic foods such as peanut butter and egg can
be introduced. The recommendations have changed as experts have found no
evidence that delaying such solids reduced allergies to them; in fact the
current thinking is that earlier may even be better from the allergy perspective.
The only exceptions are children with
severe eczema, and those with siblings with a food allergy- these children are
at higher risk of food allergies and should ideally be tested to the foods in
question before introducing them; but if they test negative the foods can then
still be introduced from 6 months onwards.”
If you are concerned about allergies you can have your child tested either by a skin prick test or a blood test. These tests are for "immediate type" allergies, typified by hives, swelling, vomiting or even chest symptoms. Both of these can be done from 4 months old. The skin prick test can be done by allergists and
some paediatricians with an interest in food allergy.
article does not constitute as medical advice. Please consult your doctor if
you have any concerns about food allergies.
you introduced any foods considered to be highly allergic at an earlier age?