In my earlier post Preventing Food Allergy – Is my baby at Risk, we have seen that infants from parents with food allergies have a higher risk of developing food allergies themselves.
What is food allergy? How does it come about? Normally, our immune system will attack harmful bacteria, viruses and foreign substances in the body while recognizing food as harmless. However, food allergy arises when the immune system mistakenly identified a particular food or component, usually a protein, as dangerous and attacks it.
Symptoms of food allergy vary, including itchiness, eczema, dermatitis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, asthma and bronchitis. In some severe attacks, severe reactions can be fatal.
Any type of food can cause an allergy although the possibility for some is higher than others. Highly allergenic foods include cow’s milk, egg white, soy fish, shellfish, crab, shrimp, lobster or crayfish and peanut. It is reported that allergy to cow’s milk is particularly common in infants.
Since, there are no cures for allergy; it is only prudent that parents help to prevent the development of food allergy for babies at an early age.
Measures that can be taken include the following:-
- Recognize baby’s risk by knowing or recording your family allergy history
- If you are not breastfeeding, discuss with your doctor other options such as hypoallergenic formula. (It’s protein is less allergenic and is formulated to prevent allergies)
- Using soya milk and goat’s milk formulae do not reduce the risk.
- Wean your baby only after 6 months and avoid highly allergenic food for the first year.
- Reduce dust in the house.
- No pets at home or child care centre.
- No smoking during pregnancy or in the presence of the child
In our next post, we will look at the role of our intestine, the largest immune organ of our body and how a friendly bacterium plays an important role in preventing food allergy and why babies delivered naturally has fewer tendencies to develop food allergy as compared to those delivered via caesarean section.