Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Babies and Food Allergies

I just read this article in Chicago Parent about new research about introducing solid foods in babies. The timing of solids is thought to have an effect on later development of food allergies.

When my kids were babies, we were told to hold off on solid foods until 6 months of age. Now, the new research (discussed in the Chicago Parent article) shows that babies should be given solids at 4 months of age. This is thought to possibly prevent the development of food allergies.

Medical disclaimer alert! Of course, every baby is different, so please always consult your own doctor about the introduction of solids. Thank you. :)

I don't know about many of you, but I had no choice but to give my two kids solids younger than 6 months. Way younger. (I got the OK from the pediatrician, of course.) My babies were huge and they were hungry. Interestingly, one child developed food allergies and one didn't. This new research raises more questions for me, defintely.

The whole idea of babies getting diagnosed with food allergies is very interesting to me because I didn't know about my daughter's nut allergies until she was in preschool. I can imagine how difficult this would be for parents of infants -- what would you do about introducing new foods, for example. And of course, the introduction of babysitters takes on a whole new level of stress.

On a freelance writing note, I'm interested in writing about this issue for a local magazine, so any of you Chicago-area parents who have young babies getting diagnosed with food allergies, please send me an e-mail. I'd love to hear from you if you wouldn't mind sharing some of your experience with me for a future interview. I have a few sources already but I can always use more.

No matter where you live, I'd love to hear about your concerns in caring for food-allergic babies. What support and info do you need? Let us know.

11 comments:

Liz said...

My son was about a year and a half old when he was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. I'm pregnant with baby #2 now, and was wondering how I would even go about finding out if she's allergic to peanuts. I mean I'm in no hurry, but we don't allow any product in our home that even may contain peanuts or is processed on common equipment. I was just wondering how do you introduce peanuts to another child when you don't have the product in your house?

Jenny said...

Hi Liz,

Congrats on expecting another baby! Since your oldest has allergies, be sure to talk to your doctor about timelines for testing (although you've got a little time).

Our Dr. had us test our youngest child at age 3 for food allergies. After she tested negative, I got those little individual packets of Jiffy peanut butter and gave some to her. She ate a little bit without any problem--except she didn't like it! :) She seems to prefer eating peanuts or tree nuts just plain, but she's not a huge fan or either. We only offer them to her occasionally since we don't really keep them in the house.

Lisita said...

My daughter MG was diagnosed at 20 months, she is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts & eggs. We also had to introduce solids early (between 4-5 months old) because we couldn't satisfy her appetite. I don't think this new research is the answer we are all hoping for but if it is I'd be thrilled to have more concrete answers.

Anonymous said...

Wow - your timing is perfect. My 3 1/2 year old is PA/TA allergic and my youngest will be 4 months in 4 days. I gave my oldest solids at 4 1/2 months, and I keep swearing that I'm going to wait closer to 6 months to give my daughter solids. Still not sure what I'm going to do, but this will definitely be a topic of conversation at her 4 month check up next week. Hard to know what the right thing to do is, when the medical community can't come to a concensus.
Jen

Kim and Megan said...

Thanks Jenny for sharing the new information. It's so frustrating, though, the amount of conflicting information and advice that's given. We held off on feeding my younger son solid food until he was slightly older than 7 months, because we were told that was the best way to help protect him from food allergies (better sealed gut and all that). We had him tested at 2, and he doesn't have food allergies, though my older son has several. So go figure ... I'm interested to hear what you find out from other moms.

Liz said...

Thank you so much for the advice. I didn't even know where to start with this.

Jenny said...

You're welcome, Liz and to everyone, always remember to check with your doctors about this stuff. We had testing for our youngest nearly 4 years ago and they may be testing siblings earlier these days.

Thanks to everyone for their comments!

Sarah said...

I waited until my baby was 6 months to start solids and a week later we found out she is allergic to peanuts, dairy, and eggs after a scary trip to the ER.(Her father had eaten peanut butter and it somehow came in contact with her, maybe through a kiss we aren't exactly sure) She has also been on breastmilk only for her first 6 months. I thought we did everything "right" We just got this information about the allergies this week and I am quite overwhelmed by it all. Thanks for your blog. I have enjoyed reading and bookmarked it already!

breliedtke said...

I started both of my girls on rice cereal at 4 months and then fruits and veggies beginning at 5 months. My older daughter had no problems with anything until I gave her a cashew when she was 2 and then we learned of her tree nut allergy. My youngest was allergic/sensitive/ whatever to milk and soy from the beginning but grew out of those by 1 year. She now has no known food allergies. BTW - I chose to stay away from peanuts when I was pregnant with #1 because I had read about babies developing peanut allergies in the womb. So, I chose to eat cashews. She is now the most allergic to cashews out of all the nuts. I do not think when I started them on solids had anything to do with how they turned out.

Jenny said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. It looks like among our small group of respondents there is still much divergence about what could be affecting how and why our kids develop allergies.

As research comes in, I'll post about it.

Shannon said...

I really enjoy your blog. I have a 6 year old with severe tree nut allergies, not sure about baby #2 yet, he is showing some signs of milk allergy. You asked about some of our concerns/resources that we need, I have started a blog with some of my unanswered questions. I would like to put a link to your blog on my site as additional information if that is okay with you. Nice to see other moms who go through what we do on a daily basis....
http://blog.kramernet.org/treenutallergy/