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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Good Allergy Advice from the Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic has an excellent short article titled Preventing food allergy in children up on their web site.

If you're a parent with a child you know is allergic or are worried may be allergy, you should definitely read it.

I'll copy one important section here, about possible allergy prevention:

  • Avoid peanuts during pregnancy and while nursing. Eating peanuts during pregnancy and while breast feeding may increase your child's risk for developing a peanut allergy and other allergies — especially if you have a family history of allergies.

  • Give your child only breast milk for the first 6 months, if possible. This is the best source of nutrition for your infant — and it may help prevent your child from developing food allergies that can last well into childhood or even adulthood.

  • Wait until your child is 6 months old to introduce solid foods. Especially if you have a family history of food allergies, taking steps to prevent early exposure to foods that can cause allergies is a good idea. As a child grows older and the digestive system matures, the body is less likely to absorb food or food components that trigger allergies. Experts believe that waiting to introduce solid foods until your child is 6 months old may help prevent allergies to those foods.

  • Introduce cow's milk after one year. Studies show that waiting to introduce cow's milk until your child reaches age 1 reduces the chance your child will develop a milk allergy.

  • Introduce eggs at age 2. This may help prevent your child from developing an egg allergy.

  • Introduce nuts and seafood at age 3. This may help prevent your child from developing an allergy to these foods. (Do not give your child whole nuts until he or she has molars and can chew them well.)

  • Introduce all new foods gradually and one at a time. Before introducing mixed foods that could cause an allergic reaction, introduce each new food on its own. Don't mix foods until you're sure each individual food is tolerated.

  • Give your child cooked or homogenized foods. Many foods are less likely to cause an allergic reaction after they are cooked. (However, be careful. A few foods — such as cod and celery — still contain allergy-causing proteins after cooking.)

Before 6 monthsBreastfeed only, if possible
6 monthsGradually introduce small amounts of solid foods, and continue breastfeeding
1 yearIntroduce cow's milk
2 yearsIntroduce chicken eggs
3 yearsIntroduce peanuts, tree nuts and seafood

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