Food allergies affect around 2 to 5% of all children and up to 10% of infants. Several studies have shown that some of the most common allergenic foods are eggs, milk, peanuts, and wheat. There is a rising focus on the role of maternal interventions in the prevention of food allergy in infancy. Although it has been witnessed that there is no role for maternal dietary modifications during pregnancy or lactation, such as allergen avoidance, as a means of infant allergy prevention. Furthermore, the latest study showed that letting infants taste these foods from the age of 3 months can decrease the child’s risk of developing a food allergy. Around 46 studies examined interventions to minimize the risk of food allergy in infancy or early childhood. Let us discuss in detail the prevention of food allergy in infancy.
What is Food Allergy?
Food allergy is a type of immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. A very small amount of food that causes allergies can cause signs and symptoms such as stomach issues, rashes, or enlarged airways. Food allergies are thought to affect up to 4% of adults and 8% of children under the age of five. It has been witnessed that there is a common trend of food allergy in infancy. Some people may experience severe symptoms from a food allergy, including a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction. It is hard to anticipate whether a child will inherit a parent’s food allergy or whether siblings will have the same illness, even though allergies frequently run in families. Within minutes of exposure to the trigger food, anaphylaxis can develop. It can be fatal and needs to be treated right away with an epinephrine injection.
Major Symptoms of Food Allergy:
Foods Stimulating the Immune System
When infants or young children are exposed to different foods, the intestines generally assure that the body learns that the foods are harmless. Gradually, the child then develops a natural tolerance for varied food types. However, sometimes the immune system thinks that parts of the food are harmful to the body. The immune system’s reaction then leads to the development of food allergies. Early introduction of peanuts, eggs, milk, and wheat is important because it trains the immune system to recognize common foods as harmless. This assists the immune system to accept these foods, which are very usual foods that children will need throughout life.
Foods Triggering Food Allergy
There are several foods that trigger food allergy in infancy or young children. Several food items that cause food allergy lead to severe reactions, many times, leading to anaphylaxis.
Small Amount of Food to Reduce Risk
As per the latest study, the infant merely needs to receive regular, small amounts of foods containing peanuts, eggs, milk, and wheat, several times a week, to reduce the risk of food allergies. Many physicians have recommended many small tips for the reduction of food allergies. For instance, physicians suggested that parents dip their fingers in smooth peanut butter and let their infant taste it, and correspondingly for eggs, milk, and wheat from the age of three to four months. In addition to that, it has been further saying that parents could let their infant taste soft scrambled eggs and some porridge that contains wheat.
The researchers advised parents to make their infant get accustomed to one of the foods per week, and then continue to give the infant some of the food at least four times a week. The main aim was for the foods to become part of the child’s regular diet.
Tips for Preventing Allergy
- Breastfeeding may decrease the risk of allergies. Health Canada recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continuing until 2 years and beyond.
- Keep the baby’s eczema under control. Taking a recommendation from the healthcare provider will help in the process.
- Accustom the child to peanut and cooked egg around 6 months of age. Research shows that early introduction of these foods can help to prevent allergies.
Instance- One can offer peanut butter by blending it with breast milk or warm water and then mixing it into infant cereal or a fruit puree.
- Offer the common allergy foods a few times a week to maintain tolerance.
- When the parents initiate solids at around 6 months, they can give baby foods such as eggs, fish, or wheat. Avoiding or waiting to give these foods will not prevent food allergies
- Use a sample meal plan to help the baby with feeding.
More than 50 million U.S. citizens have an allergy of some kind. Food allergy in infancy is found to be common during these days. Around 4% – 6% of children and 4% of adults, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are found to be affected by food allergies. While one is pregnant and breastfeeding, they do not need to avoid common allergen foods even if their baby may be at higher risk for food allergies. Signs of severe food allergy require attention right away. Referring to a dietician can help from the beginning to deal with food allergies and maybe prevent them.