Hey mamas -- are you a little freaked about your kids and food allergies? About 7% of Canadians have a food allergy, and international research suggests that food allergies are on the rise. For years, experts said parents should wait one to three years before introducing certain foods (milk, peanuts, eggs, soy) to children who were at risk of developing a food allergy, however, a new report from Canadian paediatric and allergy experts says that delaying your baby's exposure to potential allergens won't actually reduce the risk of developing an allergy. And it turns out that being overly-cautious about exposing babies to potential allergy-causing foods may actually be doing more harm than good. The report looks at earlier recommendations for high-risk infants (who have a parent or sibling with food allergies) and found that babies who are at high risk of developing a food allergy can actually be exposed to potential food allergens as early as 6 months of age. The report goes on to say that pregnant and nursing moms should not avoid foods like milk eggs or peanuts, as avoiding these foods does not decrease the chance of allergy development for the child and can put the mother and infant at risk of under-nutrition. Main recommendations:
- Pregnant and nursing mothers should not avoid milk, egg, peanut or other allergens
- Babies should be exclusively breastfed for at least the first six months
- Hydrolyzed cow's milk formula is a better choice than intact cow's milk formula
- Don't delay introduction of any specific solid food beyond 6 months. Waiting longer to introduce peanut, fish or eggs may even increase a child's risk of a developing a food allergy
- The allergy risks or benefits of introducing solid foods under 6 months of age is still up in the air
- Once a new food is introduced, it's important to continue exposure to the foods to maintain a tolerance.