Introducing Eggs and Peanuts Early Might Decrease Allergies
Allergies are a concern for many parents and for good reason — allergies have been on the rise for children, without any real known reason why. Doctors are still not sure if allergies are actually increasing or if we are simply better at recognizing them, or if it's some combination of both factors.
With allergies such a big part of so many families' lives now, parents who are welcoming a new baby or recently had a baby may wonder if there is anything that they can do to decrease their baby's risk of developing allergies.
Some doctors may advise early allergy testing if there are siblings or known allergies in other family members and some may say that avoiding certain types of allergens while pregnant or breastfeeding might help, but there isn't anything that has been found proven to significantly reduce anyone's risk of allergies just yet.
Until now, that is.
Now, a new study out of Canada found that introducing eggs and peanuts to infants earlier, rather than waiting, might actually reduce the risk of them developing allergies.
Imperial College London looked at data from 146 studies involving over 200,000 children to do a really in-depth analysis of the available information on egg and peanut allergies and found something surprising:
Introducing both eggs and peanuts earlier than previously thought best is associated with lower rates of allergies. They found that:
- Introducing eggs between the ages of four and six months was associated with a 40 percent reduced risk of egg allergies when compared to kids who didn't have eggs until later in life.
- Introducing peanut products between four and eleven months was associated with a whopping 70 percent reduction in peanut allergies.
Those numbers are definitely interesting and may point to the importance of introducing allergens at the right time in a baby's development in the immune system. A word of caution, however: the study didn't say how many babies developed life-threatening anaphylactic reactions from being fed the allergens early in life, so it's important to realize that simply introducing eggs or peanuts early does not mean your baby will be automatically protected.
So what does a study like this mean? It means that unless your doctor advises you otherwise, there is no reason to delay introducing common allergenic foods, including eggs and peanuts, to your baby when he or she is ready to start solid foods. If there are known allergies in your family, be sure to talk to your doctor and have a plan in place if your baby does develop a reaction when you first introduce eggs and peanuts.
How early do you plan on introducing eggs and peanuts?