This is the ninth installment in our series on reducing your baby's allergy risk. If you missed the eighth installment, read it here, or jump back to the During Pregnancy, First 24 Hours, or Only Breastfeeding installments.
This lesson will help you create an early introduction plan for your infant once they reach five months.
As your baby closes in on 5 months old, it is time to have a plan to do the one thing that has been proven to reduce the risk of developing food allergies — early and regular exposure to nuts & eggs.
If at ~5 months old, your child:
- Has severe eczema, meaning at least 2 flares, lasting 2 weeks, that required prescription steroids to heal, OR a known food allergy (usually to dairy), they are considered high risk for developing food allergies. High risk infants should start early introduction as soon as possible.
- Has mild to moderate eczema, meaning at least one flare that healed with creams, they are considered medium risk for developing food allergies. Medium risk infants should start early introduction by 6 months.
- Has no eczema, they are low risk for developing food allergies. Low risk infants should start early introduction whenever they are regularly eating solid foods.
What is Early Introduction
Early introduction means that you start feeding your baby small amounts of peanuts, eggs, dairy, and any other allergens (sesame, tree nuts, fish, shellfish) you eat in your home early, instead of waiting until, say, they can chew a whole almond. With early introduction, the allergens are a part of their diet, but not the whole meal.
It’s The Only Proven Way to Reduce the Chances of Food Allergies
There are 3 studies you should know about.
- The LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut) study assigned 900 babies at high risk of peanut allergy to either eat peanut regularly (2g of peanut protein, 3 times a week) or avoid peanut completely. The babies who ate peanut had 80% fewer peanut allergies, and the only difference between the two groups was that half of the babies ate peanuts early and often.
- The PETIT (Two-step egg introduction for prevention of egg allergy in high-risk infants with eczema) study had 150 babies with eczema eat baked eggs, or avoid eggs completely. The babies who ate baked eggs had 70% fewer egg allergies. Again, the key was to eat eggs both early and often.
- The EAT (Enquiring About Tolerance) study recruited 1,300 normal risk infants to eat 6 common allergenic foods (peanut, dairy, egg, sesame, fish, and wheat), or avoid them until age 1. They found that babies who ate the allergens regularly had 60% fewer food allergies. But here’s the kicker: the reduction in food allergies was only true if they ate the foods every week, for a whole year. Babies who quit somewhere along the way got no benefit over avoiding the foods completely.
What it Means for You and Your Baby
As a mother there is so much you have been doing since pregnancy and birth to protect your baby.
Remember how they made you sleep on your left side, or take folic acid for neural tube defects, or skip sushi for mercury poisoning? Then you have to put your baby on her back to sleep to stop SIDS, allow her to sleep by herself to stop roll-overs, alternate which side her head was on to stop flat head, and read to her every day before she could even see to start language development, and on and on.
The risk of all those conditions combined is less than 1%.
The risk of food allergies today is almost 10%.
Simply adding peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, dairy, wheat, etc to your baby’s diet regularly can dramatically reduce her risk of a common, life-long, and life-threatening disease.
That’s where Lil Mixins comes in! As a mom to a child with allergies, I wished there was an easy and safe way for me to lower my son’s risk of allergies when he first started solid food. Our 3 Infant Powders are made up of all the foods that are difficult to prepare and feed your baby, like peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs, so you can begin early introduction with ease. Check out our Infant Powders here.
What else do you wish you knew about food allergies?