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March 2, 2006

What about babies, food introduction and food allergies?

OK, my very non-medical opinion is that children are wired for food allergies, well before they make their first appearance into this world. A study published in Pediatrics, February 2006, states, “Delaying the introduction of solid food beyond 6 months of age does not protect against the development of allergic dermatitis, the results of a new study show. However, delayed introduction of solid food for the first 4 months of life ‘might offer some protection.’" Isn’t it common sense and standard pediatric practice not to introduce solid foods before 4 months of age? I guess some parents might still add rice cereal to formula or breast milk for various reasons.

Years ago, when I became pregnant, I thought I was well aware of the food allergy do’s and don’ts because I already had one child with food allergies. It was mostly the “don’ts” I listened to: don’t eat peanuts or tree nuts, don’t eat shellfish, don’t eat eggs, don’t consume dairy when you’re breastfeeding, don’t supplement with formula, don’t laugh too much (OK, I just threw that one in!). I thought if I avoided so many allergens, my child would grow up allergy free. WRONG!

This same study reports, “There was also no evidence to support a protective role of delaying the introduction of solid foods on the development of allergic dermatitis and sensitization in children who had parents with allergies.” So, unless I changed my baby’s mother and father (right!), then she was destined to have allergies. And she does. Lots of them! And eczema. Lots of that too!

I’m not suggesting that people introduce allergens into an infant’s diet because it doesn’t matter, I just think people shouldn’t get their hopes up. Our genetic make-up is what it is. So, we should educate ourselves and surround ourselves with a knowledgeable support network. You know, people who actually LIVE with food allergies, not those who are quick to offer advice but don’t really get it!

In a state of frustration at a time when ALL of my children were suffering rather intensely from respiratory allergies, I once asked my allergist if it could be the house we lived in. She looked at me rather empathetically, and said, “No, dear. It’s your genes.”


Posted by Ann Marie at March 2, 2006 5:44 PM