Good news, new moms and moms to be. The American Academy of Pediatrics again confirmed on Monday that you do not need to restrict your baby's diet while pregnant or in the first year of life if you have a family history of food allergies.
This again does away with the guidelines set in 2000 to give infants at high risk for allergies hydrolyzed infant formulas, which is partially broken down; and have moms avoid peanut and other allergenic foods; and delay introducing milk, egg, peanut, nuts and fish to after the baby's first birthday.
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Monday's statements noted that moms who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not restrict their diets to prevent allergies. In fact, studies found that breastfeeding for three to four months can help prevent wheezing within the first two years and longer breastfeeding can reduce asthma beyond the child's fifth birthday.
Much of the change of thinking comes from the Learning Early About Peanut allergy trial and other studies, which tested introducing peanuts products early on to babies at risk for allergies or who had atopic dermatitis. While there's good evidence for peanuts, the other foods have not been studied as much.
Alison Humphrey, a pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, says what this policy does is take the research done in the 2015 study and suppose that what is true for peanuts — exposure to peanut-based products in the womb, in breast milk and as infants when solids begin to be introduced, rather than avoiding peanuts as was previously suggested, helps prevent allergies — must also be true for other food-based allergies.
In addition to peanuts, tree nuts, seafood and fish, milk, wheat, eggs and soy were foods that pediatricians watched out for when it came to future allergies developing.
Now doctors are telling mothers to not avoid these foods in pregnancy or while nursing and to not wait to give them to babies.
The only thing parents do need to wait on until about a year old is honey because of botulism and whole milk to drink because of a danger of an iron deficiency. Milk in things and dairy such as yogurt and cheese are fine.
The only reasons to limit foods would be if a mom cannot eat them herself, then she would just wait to expose a baby to them until the baby can eat them himself. Humphrey said in babies at high risk for allergies, she could order skin testing for allergies around three or four months.
Even if a baby tests positive, that doesn't mean the baby will grow up to have that allergy. About 80 percent of milk, wheat, soy and egg allergies are outgrown. About 20 percent of nut, peanut, seafood and fish are outgrown, she said.
Humphrey tells her patients, "In the formative years— infancy to 5 years of age — these are the ages where we know the immune system is developing tolerance, and it's best that if they are able to eat those foods and not have symptoms ... to do so."
"The longer you avoid a food, you can have the food allergy," she says.