Feeding Strategies to Reduce the
Risk for Future Allergies in Infants
If one or both of a child's parents suffer from allergies, it's very likely that their child will too. Symptoms of allergies include atopic dermatitis (eczema), "hay fever" and asthma, and are responsible for 33 percent of children's visits to the doctor.
Fortunately there are some steps you can take to delay or reduce the severity of allergies in your child if yours is an "allergic" family.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed the following recommendations for families with a strong history of allergies. For help deciding whether these apply to you, please talk to your or your baby's primary care provider.
- Feed your baby breast milk exclusively through the first six months, at which time solids can be introduced. Continue breastfeeding through the first year or longer if possible.
- Eliminate certain foods from the breastfeeding mother's diet. Peanuts and tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, etc.) are good to avoid. Some mothers may also need to avoid eggs, cow's milk and fish. (Your baby's doctor can, based on family history, help you decide which foods to avoid.)
- Use a hypoallergenic formula. If you are not breastfeeding, or if you need to give your baby formula in addition to breast milk, a hypoallergenic formula (such as Nutramigen or Alimentum) is a good choice.
- Wait to start solid foods until six months. Your child should be more than one year old before trying dairy products, over two years old for eggs and over three years old for peanuts, nuts and seafood. Your child's doctor will help you decide which food is appropriate at which age.
- During pregnancy some mothers might choose to avoid peanuts.
Note: Lactose intolerance is not an allergy. Many adults stop making the enzyme, lactase, necessary for digesting milk sugar (lactose) and may incorrectly believe they have developed an allergy to milk.
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