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Can You Prevent Food Allergies?

Can You Prevent Food Allergies?

Have you noticed that more children have food allergies these days than in the past? You are not alone with that thought, and is not just a problem here in the Utah. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, about 8% of children have a food allergy.

What Are the Most Common Food Allergies in Children?

  • Dairy
  • Egg
  • Peanut
  • Tree nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

The top 6 allergens above account for 90% of food allergies in children. The FDA will require food manufacturers to start listing sesame as major allergen as a major allergen in 2023.

Can You Prevent Food Allergies? 

Unfortunately, no. Studies show that exclusively breastfeed infants for the first 4 to 6 months of life may have a protective effect for developing food allergies, compared to formula-fed infants. Partial breastfeeding, pumped or donated breast milk can also be beneficial. Studies also show that restricting a mother’s diet during pregnancy or while breastfeeding has not been shown to prevent the development of allergies. Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 4 to 6 months, or using a hypoallergenic, hydrolyzed formula, may strengthen the immune system.

Solid foods should start to be introduced between 4 to 6 months of age. Delaying introduction of highly allergenic foods may increase your baby’s risk of developing allergies and therefore, early introduction is ideal. For infants with severe eczema or an egg allergy, testing may be recommended before introducing peanut-containing foods, so be sure to discuss with your child’s provider. At this time, the recommendation is to introduce a diverse diet to your infant as early as possible, but age and developmentally appropriate. Once the food is introduced into the diet, continue to include these foods regularly. Unfortunately, some children will still develop a food allergy and then they must have complete avoidance of triggering food.

What to Do If You or Your Child Has a Food Allergy?

  • Avoid the trigger
    • Read all food labels
    • If needed, call manufacturers to ask ingredients
    • Use new pots/pans, utensils, dishes, etc. to prevent cross-contamination
  • It is crucial to carry your epinephrine device at all times. Hopefully, accidental ingestions do not occur, but you must be prepared for if one does occur
  • Discuss with all caregivers/schools what allergies that your child has
  • Make sure all caregivers are trained on how to use you or your child’s particular epinephrine device
  • Discuss with your provider whether your child is a candidate for oral immunotherapy

Contact your provider if you have any concerns about introducing foods into your child’s diet or if your infant/child has risk factors such as moderate to severe eczema. Allergy Associates of Utah is an allergy, asthma, and immunology specialty clinic serving the greater Salt Lake City, Utah area with 2 convenient locations in Murray and West Jordan. Led by specialists Andrew Smith, MD, MS, and Tara Sarin, MD, the practice strives to help people of all ages and background achieve success. Request an appointment by phone or online at either Allergy Associates of Utah location for expert allergy and immunology care today.

Phone: (801) 263-8700

Phone: (801) 282-8700