Learn the 5 most important rules for introducing your baby to allergens, based on recommendations from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
At preventallergies.org, our goal is to provide families with the information, tools and support to bring this new research on food allergy prevention home. Our team of physicians and parents are committed to make food allergy prevention accessible for every parent. In our effort to help families reduce the risk of developing food allergies by up to 80%, we put together this guide on how to safely and effectively introduce allergens following the study guidance and national medical recommendations, including these from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“While I recommend early allergen introduction to all my patients and tell them about the benefits proven by recent studies, I find most families struggle with the demands of sustaining exposure. It’s important for families to understand: studies show that once is not enough, your infant needs to continue to eat allergenic foods multiple times a week for many months,” explains Andrew Matthew, M.D., Chief of Pediatrics at Los Robles Medical Center.
Remember to consult your pediatrician to determine the best plan for your baby, if your baby has severe eczema.
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5 Crucial Rules for Allergen Introduction
- Start Early: Studies recommend starting as early as 4-6 months to align with an infant’s critical immune window. This window gives your infant the best opportunity to develop a positive response to new foods.
- Introduce One Food At A Time: Following pediatric guidelines, only introduce allergenic foods one at a time every few days to better determine how your baby is reacting to each new food you introduce. Here are some methods on how to prepare peanut safely for your infant.
- Start with a Low Dose, Then Gradually Ramp Up Dosage: The PETIT study suggested that a step-wise dosing method (low to high dose) maximized safety and efficacy, resulting in a 79% reduction in the rate of egg allergy. Below is a dosage schedule based on the landmark studies to ensure a gradual and gentle approach to early allergen introduction:
- Continue Multiple Times A Week For Several Months: In the clinical trials, infants were continually exposed to allergenic foods 2-7 times a week for at least 3-6 months. Participants who continued exposure were able to maximize their chance of reducing the risk of developing food allergies.
- Starting Early and Sustaining Exposure Can Be Difficult: Many families struggle with early and sustained exposure. For example, in the EAT study, over half of families who participated weren’t able to sustain exposure. Many 4 month olds are not ready for solid foods, or are picky eaters and consistently feeding them anything can be nearly impossible.
The National Peanut Board has recommended recipes for peanut introduction, but even then you still need to make sure to get frequent exposure to egg, dairy, and other allergenic foods.Despite being difficult, it’s incredibly important to continue exposure. Products such as Ready, Set, Food! make it easy and affordable for all parents to start early and sustain exposure, to help reduce the risk of developing peanut, egg, and milk allergies by up to 80%.