As a parent approaching or commencing complementary feeding (weaning) with your baby, it can often feel like there's a lot of information to take in, make sense of and then actually follow. Amongst decisions about when to start, what foods to start with and the approach you wish to take, there are also daunting and anxiety-provoking topics. One of which is introducing common allergenic foods such as peanut to your baby during weaning. Not only is this a topic where it can be easy to find conflicting information, a recent study of parents by Your Baby Club found that nearly half of parents (49%) were worried about allergic reactions during weaning.
Background to allergy adviceOver the past two decades, there has also been a complete U-turn in the advice given regarding allergy prevention in children. About 20 years ago, recommendations were very different (which is why it’s understandable that even now it’s easy to get confused!), with the UK’s Chief Medical officer & COT committee recommending that atopic mothers (those with a history of eczema, asthma, hay fever or food allergy) avoid peanut consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and subsequently avoided or delayed introduction to peanuts in their baby during weaning. High-risk babies, who were considered those with eczema or another food allergy, were also advised to delay peanut introduction until after 3 years of age. Interestingly, in the years following this recommendation, the prevalence of peanut allergy increased to the point of reporting some of the highest recorded rates of peanut allergy in school-age children (4-5years). We also know that the prevalence of peanut allergy has almost doubled over the past 10 years – specifically within countries where advice was in place recommending avoidance of peanut during pregnancy, breastfeeding, the introduction of solids and in the diet within early years.
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