New Infant Food Allergy Guidelines: What They Mean For Your Family
Learn what new guidelines from recent FDA, NIH, and AAP allergen introduction studies mean for reducing your baby's risk of developing food allergies.
Early Introduction is Recommended
In 2017, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), NIH (National Institutes of Health), and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) all confirmed:
Feeding your baby peanut-containing foods at a young age helps prevent peanut allergy
These new guidelines were noteworthy because for decades, many experts (particularly pediatricians and allergists) had been recommending that infants avoid potential allergens during their first year, particularly peanut.
But Why? Demystifying Three Landmark Studies
Studies show that early and sustained introduction can reduce the risk of food allergies by up to 80%
Here's our guide to these landmark studies:
- Key Outcomes: An 80% reduction of peanut allergy in high-risk infants who consumed the study-recommended amount of peanut protein per week for the suggested time period
- Takeaways: LEAP established that sustained introduction of peanut beginning in the first 11 months was highly effective in preventing the development of peanut allergy. A follow-up study (LEAP-ON) later demonstrated that the same infants remained allergy-free through their 4th year of avoiding peanuts.
- Key Outcomes: A 67% reduction in the prevalence of overall food allergy, 100% reduction in peanut allergy, and 75% reduction in egg allergy in the early introduction group
- Takeaways: Early introduction of allergenic foods starting at 3 months compared to starting after 6 months was both safe and demonstrated a significant reduction in food allergy prevalence, suggesting that there are more benefits to introducing allergens earlier rather than later and as early as 3 months. One of the key findings from the study established that early allergen introduction did not negatively impact breastfeeding practices. However, study participants could only achieve 50% compliance with protocol, indicating that early and sustained introduction was difficult to achieve at such a young age.
- Key Outcomes: A 79% reduction in egg allergy prevalence among infants with eczema who consumed the study-recommended amount of cooked egg protein per week
- Takeaways: Stepwise introduction of egg safely and effectively prevents the development of egg allergies in children. Delaying introduction of these allergens may actually increase the incidence of food allergies.
What Parents Should KnowWith rates of food allergies on the rise, the idea that we may be able to reverse this trend is important for parents to note, especially considering the now proven benefits of early introduction.
Nearly 8% of children in the US suffer from a food allergy
So here’s what you need to know about the food allergy epidemic and how you can reduce your baby's risk with early introduction:
- Food allergies are a growing problem, with more than 1 in 10 in the US affected.
- Food allergies have significant monetary and social costs, including activity avoidance, social exclusion, and up to $4,200 in medical costs per child annually.
- Peanut, egg, and milk represent 80% of the most common food allergies found in children.
- Early introduction has been shown to help prevent food allergies by up to 80%.
- The earlier the better. Earlier introduction, starting at 4-6 months, can be more effective at preventing allergies. In addition, studies suggest that delaying introduction may put your child at a greater risk for developing food allergies.
- Sustained introduction is just as important as early introduction.
With all these changes, we know as parents ourselves it can be overwhelming to figure out how you can safely and effectively tackle this new world of early introduction. That’s why we created Ready, Set, Food!
Our allergist-developed system helps reduce the risk of food allergies by up to 80%
Sign up for a convenient monthly subscription now to join our mission to end this food allergy epidemic and give children the gift of food freedom!
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.