Question of the Week Preventing Food Allergies

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[url="http://pediatrics.about.com/library/ask/blask_061902.htm"]http://pediatrics.about.com/library/ask/blask_061902.htm[/url] Q. My son has a severe allergy to peanuts. I am now pregnant with my second child. Is there anything I can do to prevent my baby from also developing allergies?

A. Yes. It is commonly believed that you may be able to prevent a child who is at high risk from developing food allergies. Or hopefully you can at least lessen his chances of having food allergies too.

How do you know if your child is high risk?

Among the risk factors for developing food allergies are:

having a family member (especially a parent or sibling) with food allergies

having other allergic type disorders, such as eczema, hay fever and/or asthma, or having family members with these disorders

having other food or formula allergies Once you determine that your child is at risk for developing a food allergy, what can you do to prevent it?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should:

Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of your baby's life (that means no formula supplements or solid foods) and then continue to breastfeed until your child is at least 12 months old.

Avoid peanuts and tree nuts while breastfeeding. You may also want to consider avoiding eggs, cow's milk and fish while nursing.

If you do want to supplement your breastfeeding with formula, use a hypoalergenic formula, such as Nutramigen or Alimentum.

Do not introduce solid foods to your infant until he is at least six months old, and then start with an iron fortified rice cereal.

Avoid feeding milk and dairy products until your child is 12 months old.

Avoid introducing eggs (especially egg whites) until he is 2 years old.

Avoid peanuts, tree nuts, and fish until he is 3 years old. Remember that many foods contain 'hidden' ingredients that may hide some of the foods you are trying to avoid. For example, muffins are often made with peanut flour and margarine usually contains milk.

Avoiding all of these may not be as easy as it sounds, especially if your child is already a picky eater. Be careful that you don't restrict his diet so much that you impair his nutrition. Regular visits to your Pediatrician to monitor his growth and/or visiting a nutritionist or allergist might also be a good idea.

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