What do you tell parents about food allergy prevention?
Parents often tell me they’re not worried about food allergies because it’s not in their family. This is a common misconception – over 50% of kids with food allergies have no family history. Many parents are also nervous to offer their baby potentially allergenic foods like peanut, but we now know that avoidance is not the correct recommendation and could be attributed to the rise in food allergies.
The link between early exposure to allergens and low allergy rates was first observed in Israel, where infants are fed peanut very early on and peanut allergies are rare (0.17% prevalence as compared to 1.7% in the UK and 1.4% in the US). This observation was confirmed in three clinical trials (the LEAP, EAT, and PETIT studies), where infants who were fed peanut, egg, and milk starting at 4-11 months had a 67-80% reduced risk of developing allergies to those foods.
Based on these studies and new national guidelines, I recommend parents introduce peanuts, eggs, and milk into their baby’s diet starting around 4-6 months and continuing to feed these foods for several months.
If my baby is older than 6 months, is it too late introduce allergens?
No. Although earlier exposure is recommended, starting as late as 11 months of age has shown to also be effective in reducing risk. Although many parents worry that a younger baby will have a reaction, research shows that allergic reactions are much less severe in younger infants than in toddlers and older children, so there is no reason to delay.
Is eating peanut, egg and milk while breastfeeding enough to prevent food allergies?
This is a question that many of my parents ask but unfortunately no, breastfeeding is not enough. While breastfeeding has many benefits and I encourage moms to eat these allergenic foods while nursing, current research suggests it is not enough to prevent allergies. That’s why national medical guidelines still recommend that early and sustained introduction starting at 4-6 months regardless if a mother is exclusively breastfeeding as it is the most effective way to prevent allergies.
Do your recommendations changes for an infant with eczema?
No. In fact, approximately 30% of babies with eczema will develop food allergies, so early allergen introduction is particularly important for this high-risk group. National medical organizations such as the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Foundation (AAAAI) recommend that parents of babies with eczema begin allergen introduction starting at 4 months, and it is extremely important to not delay introduction in this group. That being said, if your baby has severe eczema, current guidelines recommend they get allergy tested prior to introduction.
Why do you recommend Ready, Set, Food!?
I’ve been recommending early allergen introduction, but I was concerned about choking, dosage, and how parents would manage sustaining exposure for several months. I recommend Ready, Set, Food! because of its:
- Controlled dosage to maximize safety and efficacy — Ready, Set, Food! uses the same dosage as the studies with a stepwise approach (introducing one food at a time) per pediatric guidelines. Since a lot of parents wonder how much to feed and how often, this product takes out all of that guesswork. Simply put, it is the safest way to introduce peanut, egg, and milk to your baby.
- Ease to start early and SUSTAIN exposure – It’s common for parents to delay allergen introduction because their baby is not ready to eat solid foods at 4 months of age. Ready, Set, Food! allows parents to start early by mixing in their pre-measured packets to their baby’s bottle of breastmilk or formula. In addition, a lot of parents will give their baby peanuts only once or twice, but this is not enough – they need to be fed 2-3 times a week for several months to reduce the risk. And, their daily packet system makes that easy.
- All-natural, non-GMO and organic ingredients: Ready, Set, Food! is made of only real, organic foods and nothing else – just peanut, egg, and milk – with no added sugars or preservatives.
Learn more about how Ready, Set, Food! makes it easy to follow the guidelines to reduce your child’s risk of developing food allergies here.
Interested in receiving a free intro pack ($24 value)? Claim this special offer for Oak Park Pediatrics families and get your head-start towards an allergy-free future here.