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Introducing Allergens: What You Need to Know

Introducing Allergens: What You Need to Know

DEVELOPMENT
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NaN MIN

Mounting evidence suggests that early exposure prevents allergy development.

Here's What You Need To Know:
  • The top nine food allergens in the United States are milk, eggs, wheat, sesame, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, and peanuts.
  • Try to introduce your little one to allergens somewhere between 6-12 months.
  • Introducing allergens into an infant’s diet early on – at about 6 months of age – may help prevent allergies. 
  • You should consult with an allergist, pediatrician, or general practitioner prior to feeding your little one an allergen.
  • Use small doses of the allergen to gauge your kid’s reaction.
  • Do not give whole nuts, as they are a choking hazard. 
  • The powdered version of nut butters makes it easy to add a small amount to your baby’s puree, mashed bananas, or other foods.

A Tough Nut to Crack:

For many years, mothers were instructed by their friends, family members, and even doctors to avoid introducing allergens for the first few years of life, ideally until the age of 3. There’s new evidence, however, that introducing allergens into an infant’s diet early on – at about 6 months of age – may actually help prevent allergies. 

For example, the risk of developing a peanut allergy was 10 times higher among Jewish children in the United Kingdom than in Israeli children of similar ancestry. This difference is due to when the peanuts were introduced. In the U.K. infants are typically not exposed to peanuts within the first year of life, whereas in Israel peanut-based foods are usually introduced at 7 months. 

A trial by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), found that “regular peanut consumption begun in infancy and continued until 5 years of age led to an 81% reduction in developing peanut allergies in infants deemed at high risk because they had severe eczema, egg allergy or both.” Below are a few tips on how to introduce your little one to allergens.

1. Consult with Your Pediatrician

You should consult with an allergist, pediatrician, or general practitioner prior to feeding your little one an allergen. Especially if they have a family history of severe allergies.

2. Start Small

Start with small servings. Use small doses so you can gauge your kid’s reaction. Also, do not give whole nuts, as they are a choking hazard. 

3. No Added Sugar or Salt

Make sure to check your labels, as nut butter can often be packed with sugar. 

4. Try Powdered Nut Butters: 

The powdered version of nut butters makes it easy to add a small amount to your baby’s puree, mashed bananas, or other foods.

Most Common Food Allergies:

• Milk

• Eggs

• Fish

• Sesame

• Shellfish

• Tree Nuts

• Peanuts

• Wheat

• Soy

Most Common Food Allergies:

• Milk

• Eggs

• Fish

• Sesame

• Shellfish

• Tree Nuts

• Peanuts

• Wheat

• Soy

Summary

The top nine food allergens in the United States are milk, eggs, wheat, sesame, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, and peanuts. Try to introduce your little one to allergens somewhere between 6-12 months. Leaving it until they are older increases their chances of developing an allergy. Only introduce allergies one at a time, so you can monitor them for a reaction. Also, make sure to give them a very small amount.

About the Author
Raheli Kory, MS RD
Registered Dietitian

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