The evidence isn’t just anecdotal; the number of children who have food allergies has skyrocketed in the past few decades. In an effort to combat this ever-increasing issue, researchers have found new evidence suggesting that introducing high-allergy-foods to children as young as 4 months old could curb some of these reactions later in life. [1]

In Australia, 1 in 10 infants have a proven food allergy. From 1998 to 2012, there was a 50% increase in children receiving emergency treatment for anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be caused by food. Meanwhile, Allergy UK claims a 500% increase in hospital admission for food allergies since 1990 for children in the UK. According to data, toddlers and infants made up a large portion of these patients. [1] [2]

The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded with “moderate certainty” that introducing eggs from the ages of 4 to 6 months and peanuts from the ages of 4 to 11 months can lower the risk of the child having a lifelong allergy.

Researchers say that they cannot conclude this to be true with absolute certainty because feeding studies often prove to be very difficult. In this case, many participants will be able to deduce that they are feeding their child eggs or peanut butter as opposed to a controlled substance, making it almost impossible to conduct a fully blind study. [3]

Read: Exposure to Certain Foods in Infancy May Prevent Future Allergies

While doctors say that this may not be a cure-all for helping children combat allergies, they still recommend parents begin introducing the foods according to the guidelines. They do, however, admit that more research needs to be done in order to find the optimal timeline for giving these foods to their child.

Another study published this year also suggests that feeding peanut-containing foods to babies protects them from developing an allergy through at least age 5, and that protection remained with the youngsters even when they stopped eating peanut-containing foods for a year.

According to the study authors, 4 years of exposure to peanut-containing foods is sufficient to prevent an allergy in high-risk children.

Parents of at-risk children should consult their pediatrician before introducing these potentially allergy-triggering foods. While most children can be given them without any special concern, certain children who display allergy symptoms from birth will need to be under the watchful eye of their doctor as they begin trying these foods. This is because in a small minority of children, these foods may trigger a severe allergic reaction that may require medical intervention. Therefore, it is best to avoid it in certain children. [4]

The most common food allergies in people of all ages are to sesame, cows’ milk, soy, egg, tree nuts, peanut, wheat, fish and shellfish.

Sources:

[1] The Guardian

[2] Allergy UK

[3] The Independent

[4] CBC


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Post written byAnna Scanlon:
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.