Canada – Parents are advised to introduce allergenic foods early into their children’s diet to prevent future allergies. The study, developed by the Canadian Medical Association, suggests feeding children with food items such as cow’s milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, fish, shellfish, and sesame.
The expert’s advice is to introduce allergenic foods at four to six months of age, contrary to the old belief that they shouldn’t be given to them until they get older —12 to 36 months. Now, researchers believe that the allergens will build tolerance on their bodies if they are consumed early and at regular basis.
Moreover, some studies have found that preventing the consumption on this kind of foods may increase the risk of having allergic children.
Other studies, “Found that giving the foods late did not prevent allergies and, in fact, may actually increase the risk that these children would become allergic,” researchers said according to The Brandon Sun.
One of the studies that changed the perception of allergenic foods was the LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut) which found that early consumption of peanut reduces the chance of being an allergic person by 80 percent.
“We now think that you can actually become allergic through your skin, specifically broken skin such as in children with eczema, if they’re exposed to these foods in the environment and not already eating them,” said Dr. Elissa Abrams of the Department, co-author of the study.
After this study was revealed, organizations such as the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended introducing peanut in the diet of infants, between 4 and 11 months of age, having high-risk of suffering heavy allergies.
Also, scientists found that women that avoid certain food during pregnancy or breastfeeding may harm the child. According to Dr. Abrams, some studies showed that when moms avoided foods, there was an increased risk of having small children or having them earlier than expected.
Researchers also remembered the importance of visiting a primary care physician or allergist when you are dealing with a high-risk child, before introducing anything on their diet. On the other hand, parents that just want to prevent future allergies can review the guidelines provided by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
According to the guidelines, there is no reason to avoid any food during pregnancy or breastfeeding; if possible, breastfeed for the six months; choose a hydrolyzed cow’s milk formula if you are going to use it; do not delay the introduction of any solid food beyond the 6 months of age; and a reminded that a later introduction of peanut, fish, or eggs, could increase the risk of food allergies.
“You can’t be 1,000 percent sure in everybody, but eating peanut at that (young) age seems to be protective. Start slowly on the first feeding, watch your child, monitor…. But for the most part, for most children, this will be a safe intervention,” concluded Dr. Susan Waserman, professor of medicine in the clinical immunology and allergy division at McMaster University.