It May Be OK to Give Your Baby Food Allergens Earlier

Health & Wellness on 06.17.11
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The world of nutrition for children is constantly changing. For years, pediatricians have recommended that babies avoid cow's milk until after the age of one and avoid peanuts and tree nuts until after the age of two.

However, this information may be on its way out.

Studies are being conducted on babies and common food allergens like milk, eggs, nuts, soy, wheat, and shellfish. Recently, a study released in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that giving a baby younger than 6 months old milk, nuts, and other foods linked to allergens does not appear to cause wheezing or eczema.

"There does not seem to be a need to avoid solid foods, or allergenic foods, in young children who are otherwise well," said Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, an expert in childhood allergies at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

"This is one of a number of studies that have been pretty much giving us the same message," added Sicherer, who was not involved in the new work.

In 2008, he helped write a report for the American Academy of Pediatrics that backtracked on the group's earlier recommendations to hold back on peanuts and other foods linked to asthma and other allergic diseases.

I got wind of this information about 6 months ago and I have been waiting for some of these studies to be released. This opens a whole new world of food to beginning eaters. I have to admit, that I gave my daughter, Lilia, yogurt and cheese at 9 months. I also gave her ground nuts mixed in with her foods at one year - but watched carefully to see if any allergic reactions occurred. Since she eats a mostly vegetarian diet (with some fish), I was looking for some high protein foods and nuts really fit the bill.  A few months later, I gave her peanut butter and she is a huge fan.  I cannot image a day without it.  I knew that my family history was clear of any potential food allergens and I decided to take a chance. Luckily, Lilia has had no adverse reactions to these foods.

Now, be warned that the American Acadamy of Pediatrics still cautions parents against giving milk before age one and nuts before age two if there is a family history of food allergies. They recommend breastfeeding until at least 6 months or choosing a hypoallergenic formula to parents with food sensitive kids for prevention of food allergy reactions.  Food allergens are not to be taken lightly. Parents with kids that are highly allergic to certain foods have a tough job ahead of them (Check out this article on the severe outcomes this family faced due to a peanut allergy.)  Make sure to check with your pediatrician and registered dietitian if you suspect a food allergy.

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