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Food Allergy Prevention Guidelines
Introducing allergenic foods early and often can reduce your child’s risk of developing food allergies. Read on to learn more about these guidelines and how to follow them effectively. Food Allergy Trends In the United States, nearly 6 million children under 18 deals with food allergies, with peanut allergies alone tripling in recent years. The…
Introducing allergenic foods early and often can reduce your child’s risk of developing food allergies. Read on to learn more about these guidelines and how to follow them effectively.
Food Allergy Trends
In the United States, nearly 6 million children under 18 deals with food allergies, with peanut allergies alone tripling in recent years. The most common allergens are peanut, egg, milk, cashew, almond, walnut, sesame, soy, and wheat, which together make up 90% of childhood food allergies. Notably, peanut allergies tend to result in severe reactions, but any allergenic food can be a trigger.
Food Allergy Risk Factors
Various factors contribute to a child’s risk of developing food allergies, such as eczema and a family history of allergies. However, even babies without a family history are susceptible to allergies. One crucial factor you can control is the early and consistent introduction of allergenic foods, which significantly reduces risks.
Food Allergy Prevention Studies:
Recent studies have revolutionized our approach to food allergy prevention:
- LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) Trial: Involving over 600 high-risk babies aged 4-11 months, this trial demonstrated that regular peanut consumption from an early age reduced the risk of peanut allergy by over 85%.
- EAT Trial: With 1,300 babies, this trial revealed that consistent introduction of six allergenic foods, including peanut and egg, reduced food allergy risk by 67%.
- PETIT Trial: Focusing on 147 babies with eczema, this study found that daily egg consumption significantly reduced the risk of egg allergy by nearly 79%.
Food Allergy Guidelines
Inspired by these studies, new medical guidelines recommend early and consistent allergen introduction for babies:
- USDA Guidelines: The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends introducing potentially allergenic foods, such as peanuts, eggs, and more, alongside complementary foods. It’s advised to start these introductions within the baby’s first year to reduce the risk of food allergies.
- AAAAI Guidelines: The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends early introduction of peanut and egg, emphasizing consistent feeding of 2 grams of peanut protein at least three times a week. Additionally, it advises against delaying the introduction of other common allergenic foods like cow’s milk, soy, wheat, tree nuts, and sesame.
Tips for Safely Introducing Allergens
Ensuring the safe introduction of allergenic foods is crucial:
- Introducing Peanut: Do not use whole peanuts, chunky peanut butter, or undiluted smooth peanut butter for children under 4 years old. Instead, use peanut flour or peanut powder.
- Introducing Egg: Ensure eggs are fully cooked for baby’s safety, either as part of recipes or using egg powder mixed with baby food.
- Introducing Common Allergens: Introduce other allergens in baby-safe ways when they begin solids.
Simplified Allergen Introduction
Parents often face challenges when trying to introduce allergens consistently. A convenient solution is using allergist-developed systems like Ready, Set, Food! These systems provide pre-measured allergens that can be safely mixed with baby’s food, aligning with medical guidelines. Ready, Set, Food! even works with breastmilk or formula bottles.