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Weaning a child with family history of allergies (esp coeliac)-advice/expe
So - just started weaning 5mo DS. I have been given lots of conflicting advice, and have read so so much on weaning and whether you should wait 'till 6mo or start earlier. Having read the info available from studies in Sweden and the rise of allergies in Aus since they started weaning at 6mo, we went for weaning earlier (he was showing all the weaning signs when we started). Some of those studies also suggest that it is best to feed possible allergy foods earlier, and definitely alongside breastmilk. DS is bf, so we've got that bit, and we're not precious over hygiene either (he comes to see my horses, we have pets...) in hopes of trying to avoid too many allergies. So - looking for experiences really. I'm coeliac (as is my dad, and his aunt) and this went undiagnosed for most of my childhood. As a result, I didn't grow well, had little energy and generally wasn't well for most of it. This is something I desperately want to avoid for my DS.
So - have others given 'allergy' foods earlier and it has been ok? Or later? Or....??? I know there is a blood test for coeliac disease - could we introduce gluten and get him tested to be sure? This particular question I will poss bring up with my GP also.
What confuses me slightly, is that I have eaten all sorts of foods since I was diagnosed, that I'd never previously eaten (different grains etc). Just because my immune system hadn't met them before, didn't mean it reacted badly to them. But them I'm an adult. Is the deciding factor really needing a mature/supported (through bf) immune system while meeting new foods, and the fact that many women no longer bf after weaning, going onto food and formula?
Slightly confused ramblings I'm sure, just want to avoid for my DS, the childhood I had.
Coeliac UK recommends that parents with coeliac disease introduce gluten to their babies' diet as normal at 6mths old (but not before): www.coeliac.org.uk/gluten-free-diet-lifestyle/family-and-friends/babies-and-weaning
There is, as you know, a genetic link so there is an increased risk of your child also being coeliac but it's certainly not definite by any means and the only way to find out is to start them on a normal diet including gluten on a regular basis and keeping your eye out for any symptoms. Even if your child doesn't develop any symptoms of coeliac disease it is recommended that you get them tested at some point as many people can be asymptomatic (ie no symptoms). There are NICE guidelines that cover this issue: guidance.nice.org.uk/CG86
As for other possible allergies, there is great debate over whether allergens should be introduced earlier or later but as yet there is no reliable evidence either way as far as I can see. One thing does seem certain, children with one or more parents with atopic disease such as asthma, eczema, hayfever or allergies are more likely to suffer with allergies than children whose parents do not have any of these. The problem then for parents is what to do if you suspect that your child is at increased risk due to a family history of atopy - do you avoid the most allergenic foods or make sure you expose your baby to them early on? Personally, if I were to have another baby now I would probably be extremely nervous about introducing foods such as milk, wheat, eggs, nuts etc due to the fact that my DS (now 5) has life-threatening allergies. However, I'm not convinced that it makes any difference either way. I think it's generally just one of those things - some people are destined to have allergies while others aren't. My DD (11) has no allergies but does have coeliac disease even though neither myself or my husband has it (or anyone else in our families as far as we know). She wasn't diagnosed until she was 9 and I'm 99% certain she didn't have it when she was little as she was quite literally the healthiest child I'd ever met.
Sorry for rambling but what I'm trying to say is I think you need to do whatever you think is best with regards to introducing specific foods but there's no medical evidence to suggest that you should avoid any particular foods, especially if neither you nor your husband has any specific allergies. In fact, with regards to gluten, there is definitely no evidence that delaying introduction past 6 mths has any benefit and your child will need to be eating gluten regularly in order to be tested for coeliac disease.
Coeliac is of course not related as far as I am aware to other food allergies (which are usually related to the immune system). We have a strong family history of coeliac but I was told to continue as normal (notwithstanding our caution due to a cows milk allergy diagnosed at 4 months).
In our family, coeliac has taken years in some individuals to manifest itself and would never have been picked up in childhood.
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