AAP issues new advice on food allergies

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I feel very fortunate that Ellie has no food allergies. Cat hair and dander give her problems, but she can eat anything she likes. It must be difficult and stressful to have a child who is allergic to everyday foods. An update on food allergies by the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't offer any help in that regard, but it might relieve the angst of some parents who may blame themselves for their kids' food allergies.

In 2000, the doctors group advised mothers of infants with a family history of allergies to avoid certain foods when breastfeeding. On that list were cow's milk, eggs, fish, peanuts and tree nuts. The AAP also released a recommended schedule for introducing certain risky foods into baby's diet. So, mothers who ate the forbidden foods while nursing or who didn't follow the recommended schedule for introducing certain foods might feel responsible when their child develops food allergies.

Except now the AAP says there is no real evidence that avoiding these foods while nursing lowers kid's risk of developing allergies. They also say there is no proof that delaying the introduction of certain foods such as eggs, fish or peanut butter prevents allergies.

"You never know what's going to come around the corner, but in the past seven years there hasn't been enough evidence to support the old recommendations," said Dr. Scott Sicherer of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine's Jaffe Food Allergy Institute in New York.

The AAP does maintain that babies shouldn't start on solid foods before 4 to 6 months of age and that exclusive breast-feeding for the first four months can reduce the risk of rashes and allergies to cow's milk.

You can read the entire American Academy of Pediatrics' revised policy statement here.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.