There has been a lot of back and forth in the past when it comes to highly allergenic foods and when/if they should be introduced to infants. Some people recommend to delay the introduction whereas more recent guidelines have advised otherwise.
Babies at risk of severe allergies should be fed peanut products before they turn one, according to updated Australasian guidelines.
Taking into account recent research on allergies, which have more than doubled in western countries over the last 25 years, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) has updated its 2010 infant feeding advice and guidelines for allergy prevention.
We now know that there is no good reason to delay the introduction of these foods. In fact, the earlier introduction can even lower the risk of allergies developing.
Many previous strategies, including delayed introduction of allergenic foods, have been ineffective, it says.
There is evidence that for infants at high risk of food allergies, such as those with severe eczema or who already had a food allergy reaction to egg, introduction of regular peanut before 12 months of age can reduce subsequent peanut allergy,” the guidelines say.
Of course, infants should not be given whole or chopped nuts but the use of peanut butters/pastes/flours is encouraged. In order to prevent eczema, it is also recommended that pregnant women breast feed for six months and eat oily fish, like salmon, three times per week.
While infants shouldn’t be fed raw egg, cooked egg could be fed to infants with a family history of allergy before eight months to try to reduce their risk. Where we once suggested that partially hydrolysed infant formulas may provide some benefit, the combined weight of evidence no longer supports this,” said Professor Dianne Campbell, the ASCIA’s pediatric committee chair.
Unfortunately many allergies last for life so attempts at preventing the formation of allergies are the best approach.
Up to two in five children in Australia and New Zealand are affected by allergic disorders some time during childhood, with one in five having current symptoms. Allergic disorders are often life long, and although treatable, there is currently no cure,” Prof Campbell said.”It therefore makes sense to try to prevent allergic diseases in infants or children, if possible.
If you are concerned about introducing these foods to your child, you can always do it under medical supervision. Whilst it is understandable that parents want to do what they can to protect their children, it is also important to not be too precious of them and to do what is best in the long run, if safe.