Should you introduce potential food allergens to your kids?
Recent research suggests it won’t hurt, and might help.
There’s no evidence that avoiding potential food allergens prevents children from developing allergies, and there’s growing evidence that introducing some foods to children earlier in life could reduce the likelihood of developing food allergies.
Why have I heard the opposite elsewhere?
Health authorities once recommended delaying the introduction of foods like those, but more research in the past decade has caused most authorities to completely reverse those recommendations. Now, doctors generally recommend introducing potentially allergenic foods when children turn 6 months old.
Also, while you may have seen news saying that allergies are becoming more common, parents should know that food allergies are still very uncommon. About 95 percent of U.S. children don’t have a food allergy. About 90 percent of those allergies are to either milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy or wheat.
The only foods health authorities recommend not feeding children under 1 year old are cow’s milk and honey, for reasons other than allergies, as well as any food that children could easily choke on, like whole grapes and almonds.
Why should I trust you?
In doing thorough research on this topic, we found these to be the most useful and factual sources. We recommend reading them if you’d like more in-depth information:
- “Primary Prevention of Allergic Disease Through Nutritional Interventions,” from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
- “Peanut Allergies: What You Should Know About the Latest Research & Guidelines” from HealthyChildren.org.
- “Can early introduction of egg prevent egg allergy in infants? A population-based study.” from Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
- “When should I introduce wheat into my baby’s diet?” from HealthyChildren.org.
- “When can I start giving my baby peanut butter?” from HealthyChildren.org.
- “Though complex, new peanut allergy guidelines are based on science,” from Science News.
- “Common Food Allergies” from HealthyChildren.org.
- “Trends in Allergic Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997–2011,” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- “Early exposure to food and food allergy in children,” from the Canadian Family Physician journal.
- “Solid foods: How to get your baby started,” from Mayo Clinic.
- “Starting Solids: 4 Months, 6 Months, or Somewhere In Between?” from Science of Mom.