There appears to be a continued rise in allergic diseases, such as food allergy, eczema, asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in infants. The reasons for this rise are not well understood. Although infants with a family history of allergic disease are at a higher risk of developing allergies, infants with no family history can also develop allergies.
The following guidelines have been sourced from ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) to outline practices that may help reduce the risk of infants developing allergies; particularly early onset allergies such as eczema and food allergy.
Maternal Diet – During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Consume a balanced diet rich in fibre, vegetables and fruit
Exclusion of any particular foods (including those considered highly allergenic) is not recommended, as this has not been shown to prevent allergies
Up to 3 serves of oily fish per week may be beneficial. There is evidence to show that omega 3 fatty acids during pregnancy and breastfeeding may help prevent eczema in early life.
Breastfeeding and Infant Formula
Breastfeeding is recommended for at least 6 months and for as long as the mother and infant wish to continue
If breastfeeding is not possible, a standard cow’s milk based formula can be provided. There is no current evidence to suggest that soy or goats milk formula reduces the risk of allergic disease when used in preference to standard cow’s milk based formula
Introduction of Complementary Solid Foods to Infants
- Introduce complementary solid foods within the window of 4-6 months and preferably when breastfeeding
- There is some evidence that the introduction of common allergenic foods (cooked eggs, peanuts, nuts, wheat and fish) should not be delayed. Further evidence is required to clarify timing for each food
- There is good evidence to suggest that introducing peanuts into the diet of infants who already have sever eczema and/or egg allergy before 12 months of age can reduce the risk of these infants developing a peanut allergy
- There is moderate evidence that introducing cooked egg into an infant’s diet before the age of 8 months, where there is no family history of allergy, can reduce the risk of developing an egg allergy. Raw egg is not recommended.
As always, if you have a personal history or family history of asthma, eczema, food allergies or hay fever speak to one of our doctors during your pregnancy or if you have any concerns.
By Peita Hynes, Dietitian, Eat Smart. You can book to see Peita at Family Doctors Plus in Windsor by ringing 33578192. She can help you with your nutritional needs during pregnancy and after delivering your baby.