Food allergies have been a hot topic in the news over recent years. With the increasing rates of food allergies, it seems that all of us know someone whose life is impacted. While most of the recent news has focused on kids, a recent article by Dr Ruchi Gupta from Northwestern University suggests that rates of food allergies are likely increasing among adults as well.
Fortunately, there has also been a great deal of good news regarding food allergies. Over the last few years, several studies have suggested that early introduction of highly allergenic foods such as peanut and eggs may lead to a lower rate of food allergies later in life. In the past, allergists and pediatricians recommended delaying the introduction of these foods until at least 1 year of age to reduce the risk of developing food allergies. However, the tide has shifted and based on research studies such as the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) trial these recommendations have changed. The LEAP trial demonstrated that for infants at high risk of developing a peanut allergy, introducing regular peanut consumption during infancy lead to a dramatic reduction of peanut allergy at age 5. Based on this and other promising studies, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently published an updated report on the role of early infant diet on the prevention of allergic disease.
According to this report “there is no evidence that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods, including peanuts, eggs and fish, beyond 4 to 6 months prevents atopic disease.” The report goes on to state that “there is now evidence that early introduction of peanut may prevent peanut allergy.” In other words, allergists and pediatricians now believe that adding these foods once an infant reaches 4 to 6 months of age may actually reduce the rate of food allergy. These exciting findings offer hope that we will be able to reverse the trend and actually see lower rates of food allergies in the future.
Changing recommendations and guidelines can be confusing for patients and families. Your local Allergy Partners providers can help you with up to date recommendations about food introduction for your children and discuss any concerns you have about current food allergies.
By Dr. Chris Copenhaver
Allergy Partners of Western North Carolina