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March 18, 2019

These are the pediatrician-backed tips for preventing food allergies in children

Waiting to introduce certain foods might cause more harm than good, doctors say

Children's Health Allergies
children food allergy prevention Hal Gatewood/Unsplash

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday published updated guidance on the best practices when it comes to the prevention of food allergies and other allergic conditions in children.

The new guidelines continue to loosen the reins on the introduction of what are thought to be highly allergenic foods such as peanuts, fish and milk. 

According to the report, there is no evidence that a delay in the introduction of allergenic foods – peanuts, eggs and fish – beyond four to six months of age prevents food allergies. But there is now strong evidence that purposeful, early introduction of peanuts as early as four months of age may prevent the development of a peanut allergy in infants defined as high risk.

RELATED READ: After boy dies from breathing fish fumes, doctor has advice

The report also looked at whether breastfeeding protects against eczema, wheezing, asthma and food allergies. Breastfeeding for the first three to four months of life was found to be protective against eczema, according to the report, but any amount of breastfeeding beyond that time was found to be protective against wheezing in the first two years of life and asthma in the first five years – and even later.

But no conclusion could be made when it came to breastfeeding and its effect on the prevention of food allergies.

The new guidelines replace a 2008 clinical report from the pediatricians' association which addressed the roles of maternal and early infant diet on the prevention of "atopic disease," including atopic dermatitis, asthma and food allergy.

Additionally, the authors of the study were sure to note that this information only applies to the prevention of food allergies in children and doesn’t apply to treatment once a child has a confirmed or suspected allergy. “This report is not directed at the treatment of atopic disease once an infant or child has developed specific atopic symptoms,” they warned.

Full guidelines and research can be accessed here

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