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Food Allergy Introduction: Preventing Food Allergies Early

Food Allergy Introduction: Preventing Food Allergies Early

According to researchers, about 8% of children and 5% of adults worldwide have a food allergy. While food allergies are not always life-threatening, taking steps to minimize the effects or even prevent a food allergy is important. One way to go about this is through a food allergy introduction.

What is a Food Allergy Introduction?

As the name implies, a food allergy introduction is when parents start introducing “allergy foods” to babies.

Allergy foods are common foods that are known to cause an allergic reaction. These include peanuts, milk, tree nuts such as almonds and coconuts, wheat, and shellfish.

The goal of a food allergy introduction is to prevent a possible food allergy by introducing allergy foods early on.

While food allergy introduction is done by some parents when their child is still young, there are adults who do try to treat their own allergies and build tolerance against them.

food allergy introduction

Why Do People Have Food Allergies?

In order to understand how a food allergy introduction works, we first need to understand why people have allergic reactions in the first place.

Allergies are what happens when the body reacts to a foreign substance. What happens is that the immune system tries to “attack” those substances it deems harmful, even if they’re not.

This results in the symptoms associated with allergies, such as itching, swelling, sneezing, or watery eyes. In more severe cases, it can trigger anaphylaxis, which is an overreaction of the immune system that can cause a person to go into shock. Thus, it is important to always seek guidance from your doctor when undergoing this therapy.

How Does Food Allergy Introduction Work?

The best time to start food allergy introduction is as early as possible.

The previous recommendation was that babies should be at least 12 months old before starting an introduction. However, doctors now recommend that parents expose their babies to allergy foods when they are as young as 6 months old.

This is because by the time the baby reaches 12 months, they might already have developed some allergies. By doing it earlier, parents can minimize the chances of developing an allergy.

When allergy foods are introduced, the body slowly gets used to it. Instead of the immune system perceiving allergy foods as a threat, it treats it as just regular food and doesn’t trigger an allergic reaction.

Doctors also recommend feeding different types of allergy foods to babies. Not only does this help babies build a tolerance to food allergies, but it can also let parents know which foods can trigger an allergic reaction in their children.

However, the process is not as simple as just feeding allergy foods to babies. There are certain guidelines that parents need to follow when it comes to introducing allergy foods.

How Do You Do it?

Here are some important things that parents should remember when introducing allergy foods:

Introduce foods in small amounts

The first thing to remember when it comes to food allergy introduction is to introduce foods in small amounts.

Don’t try and feed your child an entire meal of peanuts and various allergy foods. Instead, add a small amount to their regular food, and increase it over time.

Do it one food at a time

Another thing to remember is that when you’re starting out, you need to introduce foods one at a time. This can help reduce the chances of an allergic reaction, and also lets parents know in case their child is allergic to a certain type of food.

When you’re certain that your child is not allergic, then you can add it to your child’s diet.

Observe your child’s reaction

Be sure to take note of how your baby reacts to the allergy food you introduced. Check if they develop any itching, swelling, and any other possible allergic reactions. This lets you know if it’s safe to continue giving your child that food.

Keep feeding them allergy foods

Lastly, once you have established that your little one has no allergies, continue giving them allergy foods. This helps build up tolerance and ensures that they won’t develop an allergy later on in life.

Key takeaway

Food allergy introduction is when parents let their babies take small amounts of common allergy-inducing foods. These include peanuts, milk, nuts, and shellfish. Introducing allergy foods earlier on may prevent possible food allergies later.

Learn more about Food Allergies here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Food introduction and allergy prevention in infants, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4646750/, Accessed February 2, 2021

Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children | AAAAI, https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/, Accessed February 2, 2021prevention-of-allergies-and-asthma-in-children

Early introduction – Food Allergy Canada, https://foodallergycanada.ca/living-with-allergies/ongoing-allergy-management/, Accessed February 2, 2021

Early introduction of foods to prevent food allergy | Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology | Full Text, https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-018-0286-1, Accessed February 2, 2021

Introduction to food allergy and intolerance | Healthy Eating Advisory Service, https://heas.health.vic.gov.au/early-childhood-services/allergy-and-intolerance, Accessed February 2, 2021

How to Introduce Solid Foods to Babies for Allergy Prevention – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-prevention/ascia-how-to-introduce-solid-foods-to-babies, Accessed July 6, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 4 weeks ago
Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, M.D.
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