While the issue of what exactly causes food allergies is still largely unknown, after 7 years of study the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued some new guidelines which at least may relieve the angst of parents who blame themselves for their child's food allergies. Here are just a few highlights from the study:
- there is no convincing evidence that avoiding certain foods such as peanuts or dairy during pregnancy or breast-feeding lowers a child's risk for allergies
- there is no convincing evidence that delaying the introduction of foods such as eggs, fish, peanut butter to children prevents allergies. Babies should not get solid food before 4 -6 months of age however.
- There is some evidence to suggest that delaying introduction of eggs beyond 8 mo. increases the risk of allergic reaction and another study suggests that children introduced to wheat cereal before 6 mo. have added protection from development of wheat-specific IgE.
- for infants with a family history of allergies, exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months can lessen the risk of rashes and allergies to cow's milk
The evidence for earlier recommendations regarding avoiding certain foods during pregnancy and breast-feeding and the delay of introducing certain solid foods was weak to begin with and has not been strengthened by new research within the past 7 years.
Dr. Peter Vadas (Unv. of Toronto) had previously conducted research which found peanut proteins in breast-milk - and as such has been sited as reason for breast-feeding mothers to avoid peanuts. He still advises mothers to avoid peanuts only if there is a family history of peanut allergies and says that the advice is arguable. He says, " there's really no reason to engage in a lot of dietary manipulation except in very specific instances. "
You can read the entire AAP revised policy statement here.