Is my Baby at Higher Risk for Food Allergies?

Maria E Rivera, MD MPH

There are 8 foods that account for most of the allergic reactions in babies and kids. These are milk, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, and fish. Just a couple of years ago pediatricians were telling parents to hold off on introducing them. Don’t introduce them until they’re 2 we said. Not anymore!

 What changed doctor’s minds?

A study called the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) trial came out and changed everything! In the study researchers compared a group of babies where peanuts were introduced between 4 and 11 months to a second group where introduction was delayed until they were 5 years old. They then looked at both groups when they turned 5 and found that those that got peanuts early and frequently had way fewer allergies than those that waited (86% reduction!). They did a few more comparisons and kept finding that giving peanuts early seemed to prevent the allergy. 

So now we know that introducing allergens early and often can actually help prevent food allergies. The caveat is this: most of the research has been specifically looking at peanuts (and a bit on eggs). We don’t know if it helps to introduce other allergens early, but it does not hurt.

What are the guidelines today?

Today the guidelines are to introduce “early” and “often” and that actually can reduce the risk for food allergies. Believe it or not the American Academy of Pediatrics actually changed its guidelines back in 2008 and said that parents did not have to delay introduction because there was little evidence that delaying actually prevented allergies. However, many doctors did not realize this had changed and were still recommending a delay. The AAP just updated their guidelines in  2019 and gave more recommendations. We will focus just on their recs for allergen introduction.

Great- what do I do?

Fooblie has 5 steps to introduce allergens. 

  1. Decide if your child is ready to start solids
  2. Decide WHEN is the best time to introduce
  3. Figure out HOW & WHAT to actually give
  4. Watch for a reaction
  5. Keep introducing often

OK- What’s high risk (sorry for the delay)

This article focuses on step 2, deciding WHEN is the best time to introduce these food allergy foods. It will be earlier than 6 months if your child is considered “high risk” for a peanut allergy.

Food allergy risk chart

Talk to your pediatrician if

  • You already have a child with a food allergy or peanut allergy, you should definitely talk to your doctor about early introduction as well
  • Your kid has eczema or an egg allergy
  • You want to learn more about risk for food allergies

You can be proactive, but…!

But 1 in 13 kids in the states does have a food allergy. Some things you just can’t prevent, and unfortunately the science behind cause of food allergy is still figuring out how to totally prevent and cure food allergies. If you kid does have a food allergy you’ve got this! Keep reading more about food allergies and adjusting your home if your child is diagnoses or you suspect she has one.

Want more help?

Fooblie coaches have personal and professional experience with early introduction and food allergy management. Chat with a coach today.