New Research On Infant Food Allergies
Once upon a time it was customary to advise mothers to avoid certain foods in her diet while breastfeeding, especially if there was a family history of food allergies. New research, though still in its infancy, suggests otherwise and has stated new peanut allergy guidelines for introducing peanuts to your babies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now recognizes new guidelines outlined by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) along with a few other groups. These guidelines recommend that a baby be introduced to peanuts early on in a child’s life to “train their immune system”. View video here.
Guidelines of Exposing Babies to Peanuts
The studies done reveal that tiny amounts of peanut exposure to infants actually lessens the chance of these infants becoming allergic to peanuts later on. A clinical trial found that this introduction of peanuts to babies led to an 81 percent reduction in the subsequent development of the allergy, as reported by the NIAID. This strategy, helps to slowly introduce common allergy foods into a babies’ diet. The NIAID guidelines recommend that extremely small exposures, such as peanut paste or powder, but no exposure as large as an entire peanut. It is even said that those babies with a high risk of peanut allergies can and should be exposed to this micro exposure of the food. This slow exposure helps to avoid an overreaction by the body later on in childhood.
Micro Exposure During Breastfeeding
While writing this section, I attended a scientific seminar on this very subject. The presenting immunologist theorized that gradually exposing the immune cells, who are being trained in baby’s maturing gut lining, to recognize these foods as “good guys”. This way the baby’s body is not fight them, resulting in the immune system being less likely to trigger allergic reactions to these foods. We theorize that this could be why breastfeeding infants tend to have a lower incidence of food allergies later on, since the mother’s milk can expose the baby to micro amounts of certain trigger foods, called micro exposure. Could the “micro exposures” to foods, such as nuts, eggs, seafood, soy, and so on, in a breastfeeding mother’s diet, eventually lessen her baby’s risk of allergies to these foods? Stay tuned for more research on this fascinating subject, which we will post on our website: AskDrSears.com/breastfeeding.