Food allergies have been on the rise in recent decades without any of the popular circulating theories confirming the cause. They affect approximately 6 to 8% of children. However, there is still hope as the majority of allergies disappear as the child grows.
What is an allergy?
It is an exaggerated immune system reaction to a food protein that it perceives as foreign. The reaction can occur rapidly after ingesting the food, or even up to 2 to 3 days later. Here are the main allergens responsible for allergic reactions:
- Tree nuts
- EggsCow's milk
- Fish and seafood
- Mustard seeds
Babies at high risk of food allergies
An infant is at a higher risk of developing a food allergy if a first-degree family member, such as siblings or parents, themselves suffer from food allergies, eczema, hay fever, or asthma. According to the latest evidence, early introduction of allergenic foods, particularly eggs and peanuts, can prevent food allergies in high-risk babies. Therefore, it is recommended to introduce these foods between the ages of 4 and 6 months, but not before. Breastfeeding until the age of 2 is also encouraged for its benefits to the immune system. For low-risk infants, the introduction of solids can be done around 6 months of age.
Here are the latest recommendations to reduce the risk of allergies in your baby:
- Delaying the introduction of allergens after 6 months would not have a protective effect and may even increase the risk of allergies, contrary to what was long recommended.
- Eliminating the major allergens mentioned above during pregnancy or breastfeeding would not prevent the risk of developing allergies, even for high-risk babies.
- Exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age has a protective effect against allergies.
- Once the allergen is introduced, it is important to encourage regular ingestion to maintain tolerance.
- Taking probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding may play a protective role; however, current research results are contradictory. Further studies are needed to confirm their benefits for allergies.
Naître et grandir: https://naitreetgrandir.com/fr/etape/0_12_mois/alimentation/fiche.aspx?…
Société canadienne de pédiatrie: https://www.cps.ca/fr/documents/position/allergenes-solides