Is there a way to avoid food allergies?

Ava Colorito

Around six million women go through pregnancy and give birth every year, and many women eliminate foods during pregnancy. The common thought is when foods are avoided during pregnancy, the child is more likely not to be allergic to the certain food. The most commonly avoided foods are shellfish, dairy and most of all, peanuts.
Once the babies have arrived, mothers still continue to avoid those certain foods while breastfeeding, and also continue to avoid the foods in the child’s early development.
Studies that have been conducted within the last few years have shown that avoiding certain foods can cause more harm than good. In some cases, new mothers should be doing the opposite.
Of course, mothers who have food allergies avoid the foods they are allergic to, which often gets passed on to the child.
Mothers did not start doing this out of nowhere. In 2000, The American Academy of Pediatrics (A.A.P.) released guidelines that suggested the mothers should avoid certain foods. They recommended that mothers eliminate peanuts and tree nuts and also eliminate certain foods while nursing, including foods such as eggs, fish and cow’s milk.
In 2008, the AAP changed their recommendation. New studies showed that there wasn’t that much of a reason to avoid foods. People continued to avoid foods because it seemed natural that avoiding foods can reduce the chance of developing a food allergy.
In 2015, the New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial on a study on this specific issue. More than 1,300 infants were assigned to an allergenic food.
“All the children were assessed regularly until they reached three years of age. In the intention-to-treat analyses, the primary outcome of the percentage of participants with food allergy to one or more of the six foods was 5.6 percent in the early-introduction group and 7.1 percent in the standard-introduction group. The difference did not reach statistical significance.
Although the trial showed that the early introduction of these allergenic foods was safe, the low rate of adherence that was documented in the trial suggests that the introduction of such a demanding protocol is likely to be even lower in real-life settings, which makes the early-feeding approach ineffective.”
All in all, recent studies show mothers should not be avoiding foods in fear of their child developing food allergies. Studies will continue to occur and, by next year, we might have something different with different technology, but we will just have to wait. For right now, this is what we know. Don’t avoid foods while you are pregnant. Also don’t continue to avoid foods in children’s early development unless they already have a preexisting food allergy.