Guidelines about allergies and food introduction has changes a lot over the last few decades. No wonder parents are confused about the rules of introducing food to their children.
Not so long ago, pregnant women and new mums were being told to "avoid eating nuts in your pregnancy, because it can cause allergies to your unborn child, and NO! You should definitely not be giving your 6 month old baby peanut butter! Are you mad?!”
That may be a bit dramatic, but this is a loaded topic and one riddled with myth and legend. We now know that introducing common allergenic foods to your baby, reduces the risk of childhood allergy by 80%
In 2000, the American Academy of Paediatrics released a position statement recommending the avoidance of cow’s milk until the age of 12 months, eggs until 24 months, and nuts and fish until 36 months in infants at high risk due to family history and eczema for example. This was supported by evidence from two studies, however these recommendations were shown to be based on consensus rather than direct evidence.
-Canadian Medical Association Journal Nov 2015
In 2006, a few years after this, studies started to be published that showed this previous advice was not accurate.
A study of 1600 children enrolled at birth showed that food allergies were more common in children that were exposed to certain foods later than 6 months old.
Another study in 2008 showed that Jewish children in the UK, were 10 times more likely to have a peanut allergy than the children in Israel. Why? Maybe because they introduce peanut early to the babies in Israel and the introduction to peanut in the UK was delayed.
In 2010 there was a study that showed babies introduced to egg between 4-6 months of age, had a lower rate of allergy than children who were introduced to egg later.
I won’t go on, but you can see evidence clearly building a case against delaying introduction of foods of any type, especially common allergenic foods.
It is even more important for children with a strong family history or children with eczema, to be given these foods early on too.
If you are still not convinced, I don’t blame you. It cant be a scary time introducing foods, let alone common allergy causing ones! So let me tell you more….. In the study I talked about above about the Jewish children and the prevalence of peanut allergy, they could find no other reason for this allergy in the same children in two different countries, other than that they were introduced to the food earlier.
So Dr Gideon Lack, became the lead investigator on the LEAP study. The Leap Study (Learning Early About Peanut) showed that by consuming peanut early on as an infant, reduced the rate of peanut allergy by 81%. That is hard to ignore.
It is still not uncommon to hear about parents giving peanut butter to their children whilst sitting in their car outside the hospital. This just goes to show how frightened and apprehensive parents really are.
Over here on our website, there is a great resource called Nip Allergies in the Bub. It was created by ASCIA, National Allergy Strategy and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia.
It is a guide for parents and healthcare professionals about early introduction of the common allergenic foods, which are:
- Cow’s Milk
- Tree nuts
So my recommendation today is take a look at the guide above and remember that statistic of 81% reduction rate in peanut allergy with early introduction, be comforted by that number and also remember although 10% of under one year olds now have a diagnosed food allergy, 90% don’t!
For advice and updates on what to do in a medical emergency with your child, including anaphylaxis, head on over to our class page and take a look!
Find out more about The Nest, Kids CPR & Allergy here