Mums and Bubs Nutrition

Mums and Bubs Nutrition – Food sensitivities and the introduction of solids

A particular concern at the moment is whether to avoid certain high risk foods such as egg, wheat, cow’s milk and peanut in an attempt to prevent your child developing food allergies.

There is a vast amount of (sometimes conflicting) information out there about health and nutrition, and it’s easy to get confused.

According to Dr. John Sinn, a neonatal specialist* and Senior Lecturer at Sydney University, it could be that the avoidance of foods such as egg, cows milk and peanut may not prevent allergies and could even be related to the dramatic increase in severe food reactions.

For the general healthy population it’s currently recommended that during pregnancy and breast feeding no foods are avoided by the mother in an attempt to avoid allergy, not even high risk foods such as peanut.

BUT (there is always a “but”), there are still certain foods that need to be watched during pregnancy for other reasons like bacterial infection (Listeria/salmonella) and heavy metals in fish that can be harmful to your baby.  In the 1970s it was recommended to introduce solids at about 4 months. This changed in the 1980s to 3-6 months and then in the 1990s to 4-6 months. But by the 2000s it was advised to wait until after 6 months and to avoid high risk foods for many more months and even years.

During this time food sensitivities and allergy escalated.

According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology & Allergy (ASCIA –see www.allergy.org.au) there is insufficient evidence to specifically delay or avoid potentially allergenic foods.

The latest recommendation from ASCIA is to introduce your baby to solids from 17 weeks to 6 months of age.

The reasoning behind this earlier introduction to foods is that recent research has indicated there is an “Optimal Window of Tolerance” for exposure within the 4-6 month age bracket. Introducing foods to your child at this time may decrease the chances of your child developing an allergy or sensitivity to foods. All food groups, including the high risk allergy ones like wheat, egg and cow’s milk, can be introduced carefully. But if you have a strong family history of allergy I recommend seeking further advice from medical and dietary consultants.

By the age of one year an infant should be eating the same as the rest of the family provided the meal does not include highly spiced dishes, rich pastries, too much fibre, too much salt or too much sugar.

However there are certain things you should avoid giving your infant, such as caffeine, or uncooked egg and honey due to the risk of bacterial infection. And for safety reasons no child should be given whole nuts under the age of 5 and even then only under supervision, as they are a notable choking hazard.

30 years ago I was a new mum and completing a research degree into infant weaning habits.  Now I am grandmother so this subject is very dear to my heart.

If you would like further information on food intolerances or healthy eating for pregnancy and children sign up for a customised meal plan and unlimited email consultations.

 

*A neonatal specialist is a paediatrician specialising in young babies.


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