If there is a history of food allergy, eczema, hay fever or asthma in your family (one or more of your baby’s first-degree relatives i.e. parent or sibling) then there is a higher risk of your baby developing a food allergy but not always…
If there is a confirmed history of allergy in the family it is best to breastfeed your baby. The Department of Health and Children recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continue with the gradual introduction of solids at 6 months for up to 2 years and beyond. If you are bottlefeeding your baby, and you suspect they have an allergy, talk to your healthcare professional. There are specialised formulas available and your healthcare professional will advise you if you need to use one for your baby (cows’ milk allergy). It is recommended that you begin weaning at around 6 months, no earlier than 17 weeks and no later than 6 months of age (FSAI, 2012).
New European expert guidance states that potential allergenic foods do not need to be excluded or introduced late to a baby’s diet, even if there is a family history of allergy. When you do introduce potential allergenic foods, give them one at a time and spaced apart to allow you to monitor any adverse reactions to the food.
What types of food are potential allergens?
- Cows’ milk
If you feel your baby may have an allergic reaction talk to your local doctor for a correct diagnosis. They will most likely refer you to a Dietitian who will review the symptoms and advise you as to the most appropriate diet for your little one. Ensure you have your Doctor or Dietitian’s approval before eliminating any foods from your baby’s diet as by doing so could possibly be depriving your baby of essential nutrients.
What do I look out for?
- Eczema or skin irritation particularly on the face
- Swollen lips and eyes
- Wheezing, runny nose, sore throat and watery eyes
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Reactions can also be more severe, breathing difficulties or a drop in blood pressure (anaphylaxis) may be life threatening, if your baby shows these symptoms call emergency services immediately.
Will an allergy affect my baby for his whole life?
It depends on the type of allergy, the majority of babies will grow out of cows’ milk allergy by the age of 3 years, however it is unlikely that babies will grow out of a nut allergy for example. It is important that you monitor your baby’s condition closely with your G.P. and that he is retested occasionally to see if the allergy still exists.
If there is a history of allergy in your family and you are about to begin weaning contact our team of Nutritionists who will guide you on the right path.