The Rise of Food Allergies in Children and Babies

Dairy, eggs, peanut butter, strawberries, soy—it seems as though every year the list of common food allergies grows longer and involves more food groups. Food allergies appear in babies and children without much real explanation. Doctors and lactation experts agree that a mom’s diet while breastfeeding does not create allergies in a child. How can you anticipate you child developing food allergies?

Some scientists believe that the rise in food allergies may be connected to overall improved public health. Because our sanitation systems are effective, scientists think that our immune systems are more susceptible to food allergies and other diseases. Without a clear picture though, parents worry about what kinds of food to feed their children.

The Rise of Food Allergies in Children and Babies

In general, pediatricians recommend not feeding a child peanut butter until he or she is at least three years old. Other advice advocates introducing new types of food slowly to a baby—over the course of a week—to give your child ample time to show an allergic reaction if they are sensitive to the food type. This practice will make it more apparent which food set off a reaction if a child should display signs of food allergies.

Food variety is not as important to a baby as it is to an adult, so don’t worry about diversifying meals at the risk of exposing your child to a food allergy. Doctors do attribute 90% of food allergies to the following 8 food types—peanut butter, tree nuts, soy, milk, eggs, shellfish, wheat—so be cautious and make sure to talk to your pediatrician before letting your baby try these foods.

With the rise of food allergies, gluten intolerances, and other dietary issues it’s hard not to wonder if food processing techniques and ingredients are actively altering our allergy tolerances. Soy products have become increasingly more prominent in our national diet as a substitute for cow’s milk.

Kids with food allergies are susceptible to anaphylactic shock and other health issues, so it’s important to have the necessary inhalers and medications ready if your child does have a food allergy. A talk with the babysitter or preschool teacher will let them be aware of your child’s condition and what steps they should take to help in an emergency situation.

Do you have a child with a food allergy? What steps have you taken to avoid certain foods in your child’s diet? Share your advice with us in the comments.

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