According to new research and guidelines, if you want to prevent food allergies in your infant, the best thing you can do is expose them early to allergenic foods.
Dietary advice usually seems like something incredibly slippery. You start to follow it one day and then the next things comes along and you drop everything and follow that. For instance, over a decade ago, people who were afraid that their child might develop food allergies were advised to keep their infant away from peanuts, eggs, and so on, at least until the child turned 2 or 3. That was the official guideline of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A guideline which has been dropped in 2008, but probably still followed, out of fear. But what if the lack of exposure to allergens is exactly the thing that is leading up to more and more people developing allergies?
How to prevent food allergies
The AAP report published back in April clearly stated that there is no evidence that delaying the introduction of allergens beyond 4 to 6 months in the life of a child can help prevent food allergies. And at the same time, the early introduction of peanuts at about 4 months of age might prevent the development of an allergy in infants at high risk. What does high risk mean? It’s about infants who have a close relative with a history of an allergic condition.
“There is no reason to delay giving your baby foods that are thought of as allergens like peanut products, eggs or fish,” Dr. Scott Sicherer, a co-author of the report, said in a statement. “These foods can be added to the diet early, just like foods that are not common allergens, like rice, fruits or vegetables.”
The reason is quite simple. There is a unique set of immune system cells in the gastrointestinal tract. And when they are exposed to the allergenic proteins in foods, they take them up and become tolerant to them. The idea is to introduce the food, be it peanuts, milk, or fish, as early as possible and in an ongoing fashion.
If you’re here because you already have allergies, then maybe it’s time to read this allergen-free baking guide. And if a nut allergy is what ails you, we think you could stand to gain from this list of nut-free recipes!