What Pediatricians Are Telling Parents To Prevent Food Allergies In Children
Doc Smitty on when to introduce food to babies
One of the first conversations I usually have with new parents is about food allergies. They’ve read so much about it, they are never sure what they should or shouldn’t give their baby.
When I first started practicing medicine, this line rolled right off my tongue, “Don’t give nuts, eggs or fish until 1 year of age.” The classic teaching was that by avoiding these foods we would prevent the development of food allergies.
But, several studies have been released during the last 10 years that have significantly challenged and changed the advice I have been providing patients.
The new theory is that by exposing babies to new and different foods, they will develop tolerance for those foods and be less likely to present with allergies later on.
Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released further guidelines that support the new and emerging science.
Here’s what you need to know about the new guidelines:
- There’s no evidence that delaying foods will prevent allergies. In fact, it probably causes more harm than good.
- All children benefit from the introduction of highly allergenic foods before one year of age. And these foods should not be restricted, but fed according to family and cultural preference.
- Children with higher risk for allergic disease (severe eczema or egg allergy) SHOULD have peanuts introduced between 4 and 6 months and other allergenic foods introduced around 6 months.
I tell parents that eggs and fish can be introduced as a soft finger food after 6 months.
Nuts and nut butter can be mixed with water to form a puree or placed on breads and crackers for finger feeding.
I know parenting is never easy, but hopefully the new guidelines will help ease your mind when it's time to introduce your baby to new foods.
Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.