Don't delay foods
With new research, the best place for parents to turn is to their pediatrician, primary care physician or allergist who understands their child and their family medical history. According to Dr. Prashant Ponda, who specializes in allergy and immunology at ENT and Allergy Associates (ENTA) in Newburgh, parents should not delay foods because they are worried early introduction may cause an allergic response later.
He also says that parents with allergic disease in their family should not delay the introduction of solid food past 6 months. "There is insufficient research to support the delayed introduction of solid foods beyond 4 to 6 months of age in any child as a means to prevent allergic disease" , says Dr. Ponda.
Dr. Wesley Burks, who serves as a member of the Medical Advisory Board for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), recommends that parents stay in contact with their primary care doctor if they are confused on new research.
Breastfeeding not disputed
The current evidence suggests that breastfeeding for 4 to 6 months and not giving solid foods for four months is the best we can do to prevent allergic disease in general says Dr. Burks. ",When to introduce milk, egg and peanuts is not known. I would not recommend waiting necessarily until 3 years (old) though."
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is no evidence that introducing foods such as eggs or fish after 4 to 6 months of age determines whether your baby will be allergic to them. After each new food, AAP advises watching for diarrhea, rash, or vomiting which may be a sign of an allergic reaction.
Jenny Kales is creator of the blog ,The Nut Free Mom, her daughter has a severe allergy to tree nuts, peanuts and sesame. Kales reads new research but admits that she doesn't put a lot of stock in media stories about food allergies because, in her experience, they only skim the surface of the issue. She read the Finnish study that suggests delaying solids may have a causal effect on food allergies.
"The Finnish study was very interesting to me because even though the general thought when my girls were babies was to avoid solids until 6 months, both of them required solids, in the form of baby cereal, before this time because of their size and weight", says Kales. "So I actually felt relieved when I heard this new research. I had not been able to follow the old guidelines in the first place."
She does not alter the way she cares for her child based on articles she may read. "I always ask my allergist if I have a question. I can't afford to take news articles and experimental therapies too much to heart because this is a life and death issue for us", says Kales."The allergist is our best source of care and treatment because she is familiar with my daughter's case and past allergic reactions."
To find the latest information about food allergies, visit FAAN's website at foodallergy.org.
Author: Janine Boldrin
Janine Boldrin is a freelance writer who lives in West Point, NY with her husband and three children.