Sinclair Cares: Babies and food allergies
Nine-month-old Braelyn Vereen-Ray is having a checkup.
Like most first-time parents, Braelyn's moms Ashley and Brandi worry a lot.
"I normally freak out if little things happen with her," Brandi said.
The rise in food allergies has given new parents another cause for concern.
Reactions to food allergies can be serious, and even life-threatening.
Doctors said there has been a dramatic increase in food allergies in recent years.
"What's fascinating is that in the last 20 years, allergies of all kinds, including food allergies, have actually doubled roughly," said Dr. Gaurav Kuma of Lifebridge Health.
It's not a clear why.
One possibility is the hygiene theory. We've made our environments too clean with too few germs.
"Our immune system has had less to do, and therefore it's actually started reacting to other things," Kumar said.
In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics made a recommendation that parents should avoid giving their children certain foods until later in a child's life. But in 2008, they struck down those guidelines, saying it was unclear what the right age should be.
"More recently, there is actually really intriguing evidence that suggests that for certain kinds of things like peanuts and eggs, it may be beneficial to introduce them earlier in a child's life, sometimes as early as 4 to 6 months of age," Kumar said.
That's the message Kumar is giving Braelyn's parents: begin introducing those foods in a safe manner, closely monitored at home.
If a baby has a family history of food allergies, it should be done under the supervision of a doctor.
Ashley and Brandi said they are looking forward to branching out with Braelyn's diet. They're pretty sure she's looking forward to it too.
Parents should talk with their pediatricians about the best strategy for introducing new foods to their babies.