news item: food allergy advice for kids

Okay, I will be the first to admit that food allergies for kids is something that has never really been on my radar. My husband and I have no history of food allergies in our families, so I suppose it’s one of those dangers that hasn’t felt very real to me. I had heard the general “avoid shell fish, eggs, nuts and honey until 1 year of age” advice from our pediatrician, and other than that, I am (still) clueless. Also, I am the Mom whose kid was eating eggs daily for breakfast at seven months (which I had honestly forgotten was not recommended until I started writing this post – I knew I introduced yolks only at 6 months and then whites for a reason) and devouring cocktail shrimp at a friend’s party at 10 months old, and it wasn’t until someone commented that I “must not be worried about shell fish allergies” that it occurred to me that shrimp was a shell fish. My husband also recently revealed that he has been routinely giving our daughter bites of his peanut butter sandwich since she was around 11 months old. Oops. Basically, we were 1 for 4 on remembering the recommendations of foods to delay introducing before one year of age.

That being said, I’m also learning that there are parents out there whose kids have very real allergies to certain foods who cannot just “forget” to be vigilant about those foods – and that those allergies were discovered at a young age. This makes me quite curious to hear their opinions on this article in the Wall Street Journal that I came across last week.

Parents trying to navigate the confusing world of children’s food allergies now have more specific advice to consider. Highly allergenic foods such as peanut butter, fish and eggs can be introduced to babies between 4 and 6 months and may even play a role in preventing food allergies from developing.

Say what? First off, most parents I know don’t even introduce solid foods until at least six months, but that’s a whole ‘nuther bag of worms. Maybe the writer was just trying to make a point that you can introduce those foods earlier than one year of age? It goes on to say:

“There’s been more studies that find that if you introduce them early it may actually prevent food allergy,” said David Fleischer, co-author of the article and a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver. “We need to get the message out now to pediatricians, primary-care physicians and specialists that these allergenic foods can be introduced early.”

It’s always a bit startling and concerning to me when two respected organizations (like the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and the American Academy of Pediatrics) issue conflicting statements. Who do you believe?

Obviously there is still a lot of research being done on this particular topic, but it gets me thinking about a few things…

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Did/do you delay introducing common allergenic foods to your kid(s)? Why/why not?

Does your child(ren) have any allergies to foods? If so, how do you protect them from people (like me) who know so little about the dangers of certain foods?

How do you decide which recommendations to follow when there are conflicting schools of thought about an issue like this?

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