Parents can help prevent their children from developing food allergies by following a series of guidelines and recommendations such as introducing foods into their baby's diet one at a time and waiting to offer them at the recommended age.
First, it is advisable to exclusively breastfeed the baby on demand for the first six months of life. As a second measure, it is convenient to wait until they reach the recommended age to incorporate certain foods into the children's diet and introduce new products one by one to observe the child's reaction after digestion of each one.
Avoiding cow's milk and dairy products for the first six months of your baby's life helps babies at risk of developing food allergies. Supplements, including cow's milk-based formulas, should not be incorporated until six months of age. It is also important to avoid offering solid foods to the baby during the first four months because it increases the risk of allergies up to 10 years.
Food should be incorporated one at a time and in small quantities. It is advisable to avoid that babies eat mixed foods, such as porridge composed of several fruits or several types of cereals, until confirming that they are not allergic to any of its ingredients. Once the allergy risk has been assessed from the family history, the child should start consuming dairy foods at 12 months of age and chicken eggs from 24 months, while waiting until at least 36 months before including peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
Milk: In very young children, milk is the main cause of allergic reactions. Once a milk allergy is confirmed, all milk and dairy products should be eliminated from the diet. It should not be eaten even in minute quantities. If your child is allergic to milk, the doctor may recommend that you give him hydrolyzed casein formula which will provide the nutrition found in milk-based formula. Casein hydrolyzate formula contains protein, but it has been disintegrated in a way that is different from milk protein and is not as likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Children with a milk allergy can be given a soy-based formula, once it has been established that they are not allergic to soy. Alternatives to the other important nutrients found in milk include legumes, meats, nuts, and whole grains.
- The eggs. If it has been confirmed that the child has an allergy to eggs, you should avoid eggs in all its forms. Eggs are a good source of biotin, folic acid, pantotheinic acid, riboflavin, selenium, and vitamin B-12. One problem that can occur with the egg exclusion diet is that the use of products made with grains may be limited, since many of them are made with eggs. If you remove both grains and eggs, your baby may not get enough iron and B vitamins.
- Legumes. Legumes are rich sources of plant protein. This family includes peas, kidney beans, lentils, soybeans, chickpeas, red pinto beans, and kidney beans. Soy, within legumes and peanuts, such as nuts, are the products that produce the most allergies.
- Fish. Besides protein, fish has niacin, phosphorus, selenium, vitamins B6 and B12, iron, magnesium and potassium. Children allergic to a variety of fish are advised to avoid all types of fish.
- The seafood. Allergic reactions to various crustaceans or shellfish (shrimp, crabs, lobsters, prawns, crayfish) and mollusks (clams, oysters, and scallops) are common in adults. People who have an allergy to any of these foods should be very careful when eating any of them.
Once a child has had a reaction to a food, the natural tendency is to eliminate that food completely from the diet. However, eliminating unconfirmed foods that cause a reaction can cause adverse effects on the development of the child, such as low weight, or insufficient height for the age and general malaise. Therefore, before eliminating any food from your child's diet, speak with your pediatrician to establish without the slightest doubt that there is a food allergy. Once the allergy is confirmed, work with a registered dietitian to eliminate the problem food and provide a well-balanced diet.
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