Offering your infant her first spoonful of solid food is an exciting developmental milestone. While you may not be able to control whether the food will end up in baby’s mouth or splattered on the floor, one thing that you can do is look for expert advice to navigate the confusion surrounding first foods. One particular topic that has become the center of many nutrition-related myths: introducing your infant to highly-allergenic foods.
The Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), were published in 2010, but they were recently updated in 2017 based on new recommendations for best practices. In order to keep your infant safe (and yourself sane), you will want to stay up-to-date with the most current recommendations for introducing highly-allergenic foods. Let’s see how some common food allergen myths stack up to the current advice.
Myth: You should avoid highly-allergenic foods while breastfeeding
In the past, women were told that they could further reduce their infant’s risk of developing allergies by avoiding certain foods while breastfeeding. Many breastfeeding women began excluding the most highly-allergenic foods from their diet, which are products made with cow’s milk protein, soy, wheat, egg, peanuts and fish.
Today, expert sources like the American Academy of Pediatrics do not recommend avoiding highly-allergenic foods during pregnancy or lactation. They agree that there is no clear evidence to support the theory that avoiding highly-allergenic foods during these times will actually reduce your infant’s chance of developing allergies. And by restricting specific foods from your diet, you could put yourself at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If you do choose to avoid any specific foods during pregnancy or lactation, be sure to consult a doctor and registered dietitian for the proper nutrition advice.
Myth: It is best to wait until your baby’s first birthday to introduce highly-allergenic foods
Similar to the previous myth, the idea that you should wait until after your baby’s first birthday to introduce highly-allergenic foods is outdated. Emerging medical evidence has found that there is no significant benefit to delaying exposure to highly-allergenic foods past 4 to 6 months of age. In fact, choosing to withhold the introduction…