The New USDA Guidelines Report: What It Means for Food Allergy Prevention

Learn how the new USDA Dietary Guidelines report will impact your child’s early nutrition, including recommendations on how early introduction to peanut and egg can prevent food allergies and support a healthier start for your child.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • What the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans are and what they mean for your family
  • Important new guidelines that are specifically designed for infants and children 0-24 months of age
  • How new research on food allergy prevention has led the new USDA guidelines below on introducing peanut and egg to prevent food allergies

Introducing peanut and egg in an age appropriate form, in the first year of life (after age 4 months) may reduce the risk of food allergy to these foods.” USDA

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA): What Are They? 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just released the report for the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), the ninth edition of evidence-based nutrition guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines, which are developed every five years, help shape and promote the food choices made by millions of Americans — children, parents, and seniors every day. The Guidelines also outline how Americans can improve their eating habits with specific nutritional targets and dietary limits.

Who Develops the Guidelines?

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is composed of 20 committee members and is formed by the USDA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Committee is responsible for reviewing the latest science, research, and public comments to weigh in on these influential guidelines. 

2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines: 5 Things Every Family Needs to Know

The 2020-2025 DGA will impact the nutrition and health of millions of American families and here’s what families need to know about the new guidelines:

  1. Public Comment and Transparency – For the first time ever, the USDA sought to encourage transparency by posting for public comment the topics and supporting scientific questions to be examined at the start of the process to develop the guidelines. This reflects an important change in the guidelines process as more than 62,000 public comments were submitted when the comment period closed on June 10.
  2. Introducing Maternal and Early Childhood (0-24 Month) Guidelines  –  Because of rising health concerns for children including obesity, the 2020 guidelines will attempt for the first time to provide strong, evidence-based recommendations for pregnant women, infants and young children. In addition, there is increasing evidence that 0-24 months plays an important role in early childhood brain development and overall health. 
  3. No Added Sugar for Children Under 2: As part of the new guidelines for babies and toddlers, the 2020-2025 DGA is also recommending no added sugar for infants and children under the age of 2. This helps to address the obesity epidemic that now affects nearly 5 million American children. In fact, the USDA reported that a majority of infants just in the 6-12 month age range had already consumed some amount of added sugars. 
  4. Egg and Peanut Introduction for Every Baby: The new guidelines also recommend feeding babies peanut and egg starting at 4 months of age to prevent severe food allergies. This change was supported by clinical trials, showing that early introduction of allergenic foods is safe and can help significantly reduce baby’s risk of developing food allergies. This important recommendation applies to all babies and risk groups, underlining the importance of early prevention to help prevent more than 200,000 food allergies annually. 
  5. Inconclusive Evidence on Consuming Allergens During Pregnancy – Further, the committee found that “insufficient evidence is available to determine the relationship between peanuts, eggs, or wheat consumed during pregnancy and risk of food allergy in the child.” In other words, the USDA Guidelines outline that there is not enough evidence to conclude that consuming allergens while pregnant will prevent food allergies in babies. Therefore, early allergen introduction is still the only recommendation for preventing food allergies. 

In summary, the new USDA Guidelines Report supports early allergen introduction starting at 4 months of age to prevent severe food allergies and discourages feeding children under two added sugars. Further, the USDA claims that there is inconclusive evidence on the linkage between allergen intake during pregnancy and avoidance of food allergies later on in life. Lastly, the USDA does emphasize the importance of the first 24 months of a child’s life to proper brain development and overall health.

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