There is so much I wish I'd known about food allergies when my first son was born. It kills me knowing how many choices I made during my pregnancy and after that inadvertently increased my son’s chances of developing eczema, food allergies, and asthma. This series is everything I’d wish I’d known I could do to reduce my son’s risk of developing allergies.
The key question this series will answer is: how can I keep food allergies from developing?
This is About What You Can Do. Not About Blame.
There are things you can do, month-by-month, from the start of your pregnancy to after your baby is born, to safeguard your baby. In this series, we’ll touch on concepts like the importance of mom and baby’s microbiome, the skin barrier in relation to eczema, and gut health.
With each topic, we round up what scientists have uncovered about how decisions made at that point during your pregnancy or your baby’s life may affect your baby’s risk of developing a food allergy.
First we cover what you can do during your pregnancy to lay the foundation of a strong microbiome and immune system.
Next, we cover going into labor and the important decisions you’ll make during your baby’s first 24 hours.
We give you essential steps you can take to avoid eczema and other allergies while baby is still exclusively breastfeeding.
- Establish a Skincare Routine to Prevent Eczema
- Early Signs of Allergies in Babies
- Parenting Myths: Common Advice That’s Incorrect
After that, we talk about introducing allergens and preventing food allergies after your baby starts solid foods.
Finally, we introduce best practices as your baby begins to transition to a toddler.
- How Your Baby Takes Over Their Immune Regulation
- Baby Should Eat with the Rest of the Family
- Time for Baby to Grow Up
Food Allergies Are Getting More Common
The increase in food allergies is real. It’s not simply from better diagnoses — anaphylaxis is pretty impossible to miss. The truth is, the rates of all allergic diseases - asthma, eczema, rhinitis, and food allergy are increasing.
What these conditions have in common is that for all of them, the immune system is making the same mistake: treating non-harmful substances (pollen, food) like a parasite.
Food Allergies Are Not Genetic
Here’s the most important thing you need to understand. Even though genetics do have some role in who ends up with an allergic disease and who doesn’t, no baby’s fate is set in their genes. If food allergies were purely genetic, they would be as common now as when you were a child. Two out of three children who develop food allergies have no family history.
A Useful Analogy
Think of developing allergies like catching a cold or getting the flu. Sometimes, it seems like there’s no rhyme or reason as to who gets sick and who doesn’t. But there are things we all do to stay healthy during cold season to minimize our risk of coming down with a cold, like washing our hands, getting sleep, or getting a flu shot.
Developing food allergies is similar. Family history plays a small part, but there’s no telling which kids might develop food allergies, which is why early introduction of allergens and reducing your child’s risk of developing allergies, just like washing our hands to avoid catching a cold, is so important.
We will keep these posts updated as new science emerges, so check back often.
Get started with Part 1.