Preventing Food Allergies

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Food Allergy Awareness Kit

Preventing Food Allergies

Feeding peanut to your infant may lower their chance of developing a peanut allergy. Before you start giving your child peanut-containing foods, you need to know when and how to do it. You should discuss any concerns you have with your doctor before starting.

Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, hosted a free educational webinar, “Can Parents Prevent Their Babies From Developing Food Allergies,” on January 13, 2015. It featured pediatric allergist Todd Green, MD, FAAAI.

Dr. Green covered issues such as:

  • Should pregnant women avoid certain foods during pregnancy?
  • How do you know if an infant is at high-risk of developing food allergies?
  • When and how should you introduce solid foods to a high-risk infant?
  • What formulas are recommended for infants who are not breastfed?
  • When should you see an allergist?
  • Why have the food/diet recommendations changed?
  • Can food allergies be prevented?
  • Why food allergies shouldn’t be blamed on mothers

The video presentation is to the right (or below on a phone), along with related resources.

Mothers Should Not Restrict Their Diets

NIAID Guideline #36 – maternal diet during pregnancy or lactation should not be restricted as a strategy for preventing the development or clinical course of Food Allergy.

This particular point has been the center of debate for many years. At the heart of the discussion is the desire for parents to decrease the chance that their child will develop food allergies. Older advice suggested avoiding highly allergenic foods during pregnancy and when breastfeeding as a strategy to decrease the risk of food allergies. Unfortunately, this strategy has not been proven effective at reducing food allergies.

“The best advice at this time is to eat a balanced, healthy diet that provides all the nutrition necessary for a pregnant mother and a growing infant,” said David W. Hauswirth, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI, clinical assistant professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology at The Ohio State University Medical Center in Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The authors of the guidelines looked at the available research on this topic and concluded that the best studies and information supported an unrestricted diet. Proper nutrition is of the utmost importance here.

Dr. Hauswirth noted that the follow-up to this is the recommendation that (unless there is a medical reason not to) mothers breastfeed their children exclusively for the first four to six months. In this section of the guidelines, the authors focus on the evidence and infant nutrition.

Read more about the NIAID Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy

Early Introduction May Prevent Peanut Allergy

NIAD Addendum – Studies now show that giving peanut-containing foods early to high-risk infants may prevent the development of a peanut allergy.

In 2015, the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study found that giving peanut-containing foods early to infants may prevent peanut allergy. According to the study, a group of at-risk infants who ate 2 grams of peanut three times a week had significantly less allergy to peanuts at 5 years of age compared with infants who avoided peanut. Other studies had similar results.

A panel of doctors, scientists and public health experts created new guidelines on how to introduce peanut to infants. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released new guidelines in January 2017.

Download our handout Preventing Peanut Allergy: Introduce Peanut Foods Early to Your Baby.

Medical review: January 2015.

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