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There is a fair bit of confusion around how to prevent allergies in children.

I find that many parents are surprised when I recommend egg or nut paste to babies under 12 months.

It was the case that health professionals used to recommend only introducing those foods after 12 months. However, now that we’ve done more research, we know that waiting to introduce those foods at 12 months may in fact cause an increase in the risk of allergies.

So what can you do to decrease the risk of allergy?

Recommendations for all babies:

  • Breastfeed for at least six months, and keep breastfeeding while introducing food.
  • Don’t start solids before 4 months, and no later than 6 months.
  • Do not smoke during pregnancy and don’t expose your baby to any smoke during infancy.

There appears to be a genetic component to allergies – so if a child’s parents, or siblings, have any allergies, then extra precautions should be taken.

Extra precautions for at-risk children:

  • If you choose not to breastfeed, use a partially hydrolysed (hypo-allergenic or ‘HA’) cow’s milk formula.
  • Introduce one new food every 2-3 days.

Should I restrict allergenic foods during pregnancy?

The current recommendation both from ASICA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) and the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) is that no foods should be restricted in pregnancy. Restricting foods in pregnancy could mean that both mum and baby don’t have the best nutrition they can.

There is some evidence restricting foods will reduce the risk of allergy – but only for that food.

It is impossible to completely remove all allergens from any diet – children can be allergic to almost anything.

If your specialist does recommend removing certain foods from your diet during pregnancy, make sure you do so under the supervision of an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

My child has an allergy – did I do something wrong?

All of these tactics only reduce the risk, not absolutely avoid it. We simply don’t know exactly why some kids have allergies and some don’t.

Until we know exactly how allergies happen, babies will still have allergies. Managing allergies can be annoying, but it’s not the end of the world.

There’s so much support out there, and kids with allergies usually very bright, and manage their allergies very well.

Further reading here.

  • Good read. There’s still a lot of research necessary in regards to this !

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  • Thank you for the interesting article and topic.

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  • I’ve read that you limit when you introduce certain foods to your babies. If you introduce them to certain foods too early, it increases their chances of developing allergies to them. I’m not sure though, we never had food allergies

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  • thanking you jeesica, lovely, well written article

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  • This was an interesting mini article. Thanks for posting!

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  • Great article, I am definitely scared to give my baby nuts at all because of the increasing number of children with nut allergies but will try very small amounts before 12 months.

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  • I think it all comes down to a persons genetics or what their genetic makeup was meant to give them. I was born with severe allergies but my Mum ate all the allergen foods while pregnant. She breastfed me until 6 months old. so far my 13 month old hasn’t presented with the same allergies I’m still breastfeeding 13 months later, I believe breastfeeding has a great impact on health and the baby’s well being. He is the only baby I know that has only been sick once in 13 months. “knock wood”

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  • I do wish that I could have breastfed for more than 5weeks but that choice was taken aeay from me. However, the other tips are a choice that anyone can make. I wish I had known about the HA formula. I was given very different advice by a lactation consultant.

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  • great article! back when we were growing up we didnt have people telling our parents this is bad for you and that is bad for you. It was basically what you could afford at the time. We never went hungry and nine times out of ten we didnt have any allergies from it either. I have never witheld any foods from my children and im just lucky that we have not had any troubles with allergies so far….touch wood!

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  • I love good advice .. thank you so much for sharing

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  • I have always thought that if you withhold various foods from very young infants etc that it could make them more prone to allergies later on.

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  • Having Kids with allergies is not a easy job. So many things to worry about and so many things are not able to do…

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  • Allergies in children are annoying.

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  • My son has asthma and hayfever that we discover still via trial by error. Some cats cause severe reactions, others don’t; some grass at football ovals causes rashes and severe reactions, others don’t. It’s very frustrating as my husband and I have not experienced any of these issues. We understand they’ll be with my son always and we work through them with our GP.


    • Apparently people are not allergic to the cat fur itself but the saliva that is in their coat when they lick themselves and naturally long haired varieties of cats have more of this. My friend’s daughter was allergic to long haired cats and she got 2 Siamese and there were no more problems.

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  • I had a few battles with my Mum who always insisted that each of my children were hungry and needed solids from the time they were 2 months old….drove me crazy

    Reply

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