Allergies and the Introduction of Solid Food

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If there is a history of food allergies in the family, can the single mom help her baby avoid the need of a special diet by introducing solid foods at an earlier age? The controversy goes on and parents trying to avoid special needs diets for their babies find that while studies indicate the timing of the introduction of cow’s milk and solid foods may signify the sensitivity to food allergens later, no one is coming forward with specific information.

Peanut allergies in children are growing at a fast rate, and no one seems to know why. A reaction to peanuts is one of the most dangerous of all of the food allergies, and parents of children with special needs diets often have a hard time finding products that won’t make their children ill. It’s advised that packaged foods that come from a facility that also processes peanut products be avoided completely. Peanuts are a popular additive in parent provided snacks at school, and the further risk of kids swapping tempting lunches when outside of the home makes it vital that even young children understand the risks involved and the necessity of strictly following the special needs diet.

Most experts agree that infants get the best nutrition if they are fed breast milk exclusively until they are six months old, but a new study suggests that food allergies, especially a peanut allergy, can be reduced if they are introduced to solid foods before four months of age.

Researchers are quick to point out that their results only suggest that the risk of later food allergies is reduced when solid food is introduced early. Christine Joseph of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit says that the study can’t prove cause and effect, even though it shows an association. While the study showed a difference in allergy to peanuts, no difference was shown is the risk of milk and egg allergies.

Studying 2 and 3 year old children whose parents had allergies, the researchers found that the kids were five times less likely to have peanut immune system antibodies that were directed at peanut proteins. If a child is sensitized to peanuts, they have an increased risk of developing an allergy.

Before 2008, the American academy of Pediatrics recommendation was that cow’s milk shouldn’t be given to kids before their first birthday to reduce the risk of allergy. They also advised that parents wait until their children turn two before they were given eggs, and that peanuts not be fed until the toddler was three. They have since found that there was no evidence to prove that these guidelines reduced the risk of food allergies.

If someone in your family has a food allergy, discuss the introduction of solid food with your pediatrician. Each special needs and potential special needs child is different. Your child’s doctor should have the most recent information on the continuing research about food allergies or be able to point you in the right direction to find the information you need to make your decision.

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About Author

Patrice Campbell is a freelance writer working from the Denver area. Campbell started her writing career in the 1980’s, working for several Wisconsin local papers as a news, human interest and features writer, as well as a photographer.

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