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Can I prevent my baby getting allergies?

(21 Posts)
dimples82 Wed 08-Jul-09 10:47:25


I'm a first time mum to be and I keep on hearing how allergies and reactions are on the up and I'm worried that maybe i'll do something to make my baby allergic. Does anyone know how babies become allergic to things..can how or what i will feed my LO when they arrive cause them to have allergies?

I know I'm probably worrying about nothing and its probably down to genes and things, but i haven't a clue!

Thanks x

HuffwardlyRudge Wed 08-Jul-09 10:50:45

Waiting until 26 weeks to introduce your baby to solid food is said to reduce the risks of allergies isn't it?

Chandra Wed 08-Jul-09 11:03:53

First of all, the first thing to keep in mind is that children don't get allergic to one thing or the other because x food was introduced to early. There is also a very important factor that doesn't have to do with what you do: Do you have a history of allergies in your family? If you do, there are special guidelines to follow regarding when to introduce certain foods. Otherwise the general guidelines are the only thing you need to worry about.

The advise keeps changing all the time, and I don't remember well correctly but it was more or less like:
-No glutten before 6 months
-No citrics, cows milk (unless used in cooking), and egg before 12 months
-No nuts before 3
... etc.

That advise is more than 6 years old so may not be accurate anymore. And would only apply if you have, or have close relatives who suffer from eczema, asthma, hay fever, or any severe food allergy.

There is a lot of controversy about the right time to introduce nuts, but, as far as I'm aware, the results of the study that could change that policy are not yet final.

oodlesofpoodles Wed 08-Jul-09 11:08:30

Exclusive bf for at least 4 months is supposed to help.

Mothers given probiotics during pregnancy and bf have been shown to have lower incidences of eczema in their babies.

Some people think that vaccinations do something to the immune system which makes allergies more likely.

Some people think that allergens should be introduced early and some people think they should be delayed as long as possible LEAP study for peanuts.

Countries which have a lot of fermented food in their diet tend to have fewer allergies and its thought that our food may have too few bacteria in it to develop a healthy gut.

McDreamy Wed 08-Jul-09 11:08:44

Not sure if you can avoid it but my experience has been

DD1 weaned at 4 months (as was the advice 6 years ago) - no allergies

DS1 weaned at 6-7 months egg introduced after a year - severe egg allergy

DD2 weaned 5 months (1 week ago) - no allergy as yet! (Not tried anything yet other than simple fruit and veg)

So ime delayed weaning and exposure didn't prevent the allergy but that's just my experience.

McDreamy Wed 08-Jul-09 11:09:41

All 3 breast fed. First 2 until 6 months, DD2 until 4.5 months.

Bramshott Wed 08-Jul-09 11:12:07

Don't clean too much grin!

Beccabell Wed 08-Jul-09 11:47:09

Usually there will be a history of allergies in the family (yours or the Dad's).
My dd2 has a severe nut allergy - she wasn't given any nut products before the age of 4, but when she basically just licked a brazil nut, she had a severe reaction.
Her father has an allergy to cats, dust etc, his brother has an allergy to hazelnuts and his mum has a severe allergy to penicillin. My dd2 is also allergic to cats and had a problem with dairy products in her first 2 years (now outgrown). It's all in the genes I think. The allergy specialist told me the same, and also said that the increase in antibacterial products being used all over the home might have something to do with it (I've always been a "dettol mum" lol.
The key is - if there are allergies in the family - avoid all traces of nuts and peanuts before the age of 3 (which is what I did, but hey ho).
Don't worry too much - just avoid nuts, and don't wean before 6 months.

dimples82 Wed 08-Jul-09 11:49:54

Wow I wasn't expecting such fast and detailed responses..thank you all so much.

It feels like there are a lot of thoughts on the topic out there but no real hard and fast rules. I suppose it will just depend on my LO.

Chandra - no allergies that I know of except hayfever but I think that's a very different thing. Although i have developed a slight dairy intolerance later in life.

Don't worry Bramshott, cleaning is not my forte anyway

Thanks everyone

dimples82 Wed 08-Jul-09 11:59:56

Thanks Beccabell

SarahL2 Wed 08-Jul-09 12:12:41

Hayfever is not a "very different thing" dimples, it's one of the three signs of an atopic (allergic) system - the other two are Asthma and Excema. If you have one, you are more likely to have or pass on one or all of the others

NHS leaflet

DH and I both have Hayfever (I also have mild excema and DH has some food intolerences) which is why we've been really careful with DS. So far he's only had mild excema but he's only 2 so we're still waiting to see if he gets any more

dimples82 Wed 08-Jul-09 12:19:01

That's really interesting SarahL2, I had no idea. Definitely something I need to bear in mind then.
Thank you.

Beccabell Wed 08-Jul-09 12:37:32

That's OK Dimples
Another thing I would add...
My dd2 is specifically allergic to Brazil nuts (but has to avoid all nuts traces due to the risk of cross contamination) - now - I used to make an effort to eat 2 or 3 Brazil nuts myself every day because they're packed full of selenium which is good for seratonin leveels. Although I never gave her any of them, or ate them while pregnant or brestfeeding, I believe my eating Brazil nuts made her allergic because the traces will have been on my fingers and therefore could have contaminated her food at a young age. My specialist said he thought I wasnt' to blame, but to be on the safe side, I would recommend not eating nuts in the house.
We mothers are specialists at blaming ourselves though...and some people might think this is a bit paranoid wink

trixymalixy Wed 08-Jul-09 12:37:33

It's so difficult.

I am currently 36 weeks pregnant with DC2. DS1 has multiple allergies and I did everything "right". We don't really have a family history of allergies but both DH and I had hayfever and excema when younger so atopic tendencies.

I am currently taking both pre and pro-biotics which are supposed to help.

-exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months
-wean at 6 months+
-no nuts before age 5

VelvetCushions Wed 08-Jul-09 13:09:08

I think that vaccinations trigger something in some children.
Personally, I don't think its anything to do with weaning etc
In countries where children aren't so heavily vaccinated, there seems to be hardly any cases of food allergies.
If I have a 3rd, I'll definitely be delaying vaccinations by 6 months, especially if there is exzema present.

idunnop Wed 08-Jul-09 13:28:33

I don't think you can do much to prevent your child getting allergies TBH - it's more down to family history / genetics. Like trixymalixy I did everything by the book and read a huge amount about preventing allergies before even getting pregnant as I have allergies and eczema myself, while DH has allergies and had asthma as a child. Despite my best efforts, DD has allergies too (milk, egg, peanuts).

It's still worth doing the things trixy suggests, but at the end of the day it's mainly out of your hands so not worth worrying about too much! My 2nd baby is due very soon so I will be crossing my fingers this one is not so allergic as it will make life a lot easier.

AcademicMum Wed 08-Jul-09 23:20:22

To be honest, this is the million dollar question. No-one actually knows when allergies are programmed and what can be done to prevent them. It seems to be a mix of predominantly genetics and pre-programming in the womb. There is no evidence that breastfeeding prevents allergies (I can't remember the reference, but a large study published in british medical journal found that bf babies were not better off than ff babies for allergies and may even be slightly worse for non-food allergies e.g. dust-mite etc). Basically anything to do with the immune system is a big unknown in both science and medicine. Personally I think you best bet is follow the current advice so far as possible and hope for the best!

mollymawk Thu 09-Jul-09 00:07:30

My allergy doctor says that meeting allregens via the skin (not the digestive system) is possibly relevant. And there is a study somewhere that showed that using nappy cream containing peanut oil (which by the way is often called arachis oil) increased the chance of peanut allergy. Shame no-one tells us about that ahead of time eh?

trixymalixy Thu 09-Jul-09 00:18:29

I read a similar study about skin products containing soya oil Molly.

AcademicMum Thu 09-Jul-09 00:30:35

Oh, I read something about that - which comes first eczema or allergies. The thing was that in children with eczema they have broken skin and if things get into the body via the skin, the body rejects them as that is not the expected route for delivery and this may contribute to allergy. Not sure what to make of it myself as ds1 never got eczema until after starting solids (he was exclusively ff after 4 days) but ds2 got eczema from birth (exclusively bf until 23 weeks and bf plus solids till 13 months).

bridewolf Thu 09-Jul-09 17:37:27

i have had four children, and only one child has food allergies, he also has environmental allergies. However we are a highly atopic family with a family history of asthma , ezcema and hay fever.

mainly from my side, at least from my grandfather!

however I have ezcema , and adult onset asthma, my husband has hay fever, and asthma.

I breastfed all of my children for years, and my first was given first soilds at 4 months, other children at 6 months.

first sons had mild hay fever, outgrown by 5, youngest child has sensitve skin, dry, no huge ezcema, but hives from contact on a varity of shampoos etc.

my middle child, has a long list of food and environmental allergies.

other posts have given you good facts, not sure about the vacination one, i dont think its linked, as diets are pretty different, and plenty of other countries children die without vaccines, and other diseases, who measures rates of autism etc in the poor in africa and india?
Mind you city life does cause asthma a study in india has shown recently.

diet, is a main factor here, and of course avoidance of foods while pregant is also being studied as a cause.

african children have no peanut allergy ( results of study) and they are weaned on the stuff.

certainly since the guidance of avoidance of nuts while pregant for high risk families has been given, allergies have risen 200%
mothers with no family history are seeing a huge rise in allergies, and they have followed the avoidance guidelines.

so, all this leaves you with plenty to consider, and my final comment,

allergies can develop out of the blue at any time of life.
so dont worry about allergies, no on can predict them from happening, so there is no point. only allow your self to worry once they slap you in the face!

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