Saturday, March 6, 2010

Preventing Food Allergies in Children

Last week, I wrote about a new study in England being conducted to determine if either eating peanuts or avoiding peanuts between birth and age 2 was more likely to result in a peanut allergy.  This week, information on a study in Australia was released reporting that avoiding the offending allergen from the 3rd trimester of pregnancy until the age of 2 resulted in less food allergies.

WebMD reported that 7 out of 10 babies born to mothers who to took care to avoid food allergens (based on older sibling allergies) had no food allergies versus 45% of babies born to mothers that did not follow precautionary advice.  The study leader, Velencia Soutter, MD, goes on to say that avoiding the allergen also means eliminating the offending food not only from the diet but also from the environment, in other words, clean house!

At this point in reading the study, I'm intrigued.  This is exactly what I did. I ate lots of peanut butter crackers when I was pregnant with Abigail and while breast-feeding.  My husband and I continued to eat peanut butter products while she was an infant.  At 18 months, I gave her peanut butter, and she had an allergic reaction.

Okay, I'll admit that we do keep a few snack bars, not containing peanuts, but manufactured in the same facility, on the top shelf of our pantry. But, that's really the extent of the peanut products that we've had in our house since we found out she was allergic.  I can also probably count on 2 hands the number of times I've eaten an offending product like a peanut butter candy bar.  So, I can say with much confidence that when pregnant with our second child, I did not consume any peanuts, nor when breast-feeding, nor when he was an infant.  In fact, he's 2 1/2 and still has not had any peanut products.  We've had a RAST test performed, and he shows no signs of being allergic to peanuts.

So, back to the study...
Dr. Soutter did the study because many moms were asking in desperation if there was anything they could do to prevent future children from having food allergies.  They advised 274 pregnant women in their 3rd trimester to avoid the foods that their children were allergic too, but did not require them to.  Of the 274 women, approximately 2/3rds followed their advise.  Their babies were then given skin prick tests at 1 1/2 and 3 years of age to test for the food allergies of their older siblings.

Here's the results:
  • Thirty percent of babies born to mothers who took avoidance measures had one or more food allergies vs. 55% of babies whose moms didn't take those avoidance measures
  • Babies born to mothers who took avoidance measures were less likely to develop asthma symptoms. Only 11% exhibited symptoms by the age of 3, compared with 43% of babies whose mothers didn't avoid the offending foods.
First off, I'm still very interested in the outcome of the LEAP Study in England.  I like to see duplicated results.  Second, and more importantly moms, we can not feel guilty for eating peanuts when we were pregnant, breast-feeding or raising infants!!  There has to be more to this.  My mom ate peanuts, and I bet your mom did too.  Neither my husband or myself have any food allergies!  There has to be a cumulative cause...eating peanuts, genetically modified foods, soy formula, environmental changes, etc.

Has anyone else changed their eating habits for their second child and had a different outcome?  I'd like to hear your story.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It is a nice information about preventing food allergy in the children. A food allergy occurs when the body's immune system reacts to otherwise harmless substances in certain food.