The new ASCIA (Australian Society of Clinical Immunologists and Allergists) guidelines 2016 are exciting. Finally advice for the early introduction of solids in reducing food allergies.
Many moons ago I remember talking about the window of 4-6 months as being protective of reducing and preventing food allergies. And boy did I get trolled! Well, I’d like to know where is my apology from said trolls now I am vindicated?!! Exactly they’ve all got a case of extreme shyness.
Arriving from the UK 16 years ago I had never seen a case of food allergy. We were introducing solids at 2-3 months of age.
This is too early I know. The guidelines stated starting solids at 4 months but many parents (in Manchester) did their own thing despite what Health Visitor’s were saying.
In Australia, we (2002) were advising introducing solids at 6 months plus (NHMRC guidelines). ASCIA published new allergy prevention guidelines in 2010. How many babies have I seen in OZ with food allergies and even multiple food allergies? Too many to count. It’s really tough for those families. I have a public duty to try and prevent it happening to more babies and children.
I myself have food allergies, intolerances, multiple atopic and auto-immune conditions. As a baby I was a home birth, totally breastfed, eating only organic food until 18 years old, drank raw full cream cows milk straight from the farm (un-pasteurised) and was exposed to dirt aplenty (my grandparents were farmers and I spent most of my childhood eating carrots straight from the field).
I’m hoping to prevent food allergies occuring to other babies and children if I can.
ASCIA states, “This advice (on introduction to solids) applies to all infants, including the majority of those who are at a higher risk of developing allergies”.
Eczema and solids
Introduce solids at around 4-6 months even if your baby has mild or moderate eczema.
If your baby has severe eczema ASCIA advises seeking specific medical advice from a Paediatrician or Immunologist/Allergy specialist.
ASCIA is recommending breastfeeding until 6 months but says there is “no consistent high-quality evidence breastfeeding is preventative of food allergy”.
ASCIA states “When your infant is ready, from 4-6 months of age, introduce foods according to what the family usually eats, regardless of whether the food is considered to be a common food allergen”.
Introducing smooth peanut butter and fully cooked egg at 4-7 months
Do not give raw egg or honey. Parents should be giving all foods in the 4-7 month window for the prevention of food allergy (except honey which can be given after 12 months). Including cooked whole egg, fish, full cream cows milk and dairy, all nut pastes, wheat and gluten, soy, berry fruits, etc. Giving fully cooked egg (4-6 months) and smooth peanut butter (4-11 months) and gluten (4-7 months) can decrease the risk of developing these food allergies by up to 80% in families with an atopic history of asthma, eczema, food allergy and auto-immune disease.
“There is no particular order in which to introduce foods. However, iron-rich foods need to be included from 6months (such as iron-fortified cereals, meats, fish, poultry, cooked egg and legumes)”.
Did you know feeding babies unroasted boiled (for 30 minutes) peanuts could also help the baby avoid a peanut allergy? This is HUGE.
Dr John Sinn (a Sydney allergy associate professor and researcher) says Asian babies are more likely to be exposed to peanuts in this way and are less likely to have peanut allergies suffered by so many Australian children.
Babies in Israel
Babies in Israel are usually fed a peanut-based biscuit called Bamba as their first food. They have 1/10th the rate of peanut allergy compared to the Western world.
Israelis have long considered the popular peanut-flavoured Bamba as the ultimate snack food. Now a new British study and editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine are highlighting this addictive treat for its role in preventing peanut allergies. This is HUGE. All babies should be fed peanut and other nut pastes from 4 months. There is a follow-up study on whether children need regular doses of peanut to keep allergy at bay.
Facial skin sensitivity
In the past, we have equated skin rash on babies faces especially around the mouth with food allergy. This is not necessarily the case.
“It is important to understand the facial skin in babies is very sensitive. Many foods (including citrus, tomatoes, berries, other fruit and vegemite) can irritate the skin and cause redness on contact – this is not a food allergy. Smearing food on the skin will not help to identify possible food allergies,” says ASCIA.
If your baby has an allergic reaction to any of the foods it is important to seek medical advice.
Please heed these ASCIA guidelines and give all these more allergenic foods early, at 4-7 months of age. Prevention is key and we all have a duty of care to protect the health of our babies and children. Today I have done my bit.