Being a parent is tough. Whether you are on your first or your 10th child, parenting advice and wisdom seems to change on a nearly daily basis. What was done a decade ago or even one year ago is now considered dangerous. However, all of this information can help you make better choices for your children.
For example, consider the increase in food allergies in recent years. Folk wisdom suggests that holding off on these foods until a child is older decreases the risk of allergy development. Find out how the latest research challenges that and what it means for your parenting.
Why the Old Wisdom is Wrong
If you have ever taken a baby to a well baby visit, you’ve likely had a doctor tell you that you should hold off on feeding your child common allergens until they are at least one year old. Some doctors even recommend waiting until the age of two or older.
However, the research simply does not back this up. Peanut allergies are at an all-time high, putting children at risk for deadly allergic reactions every day. Scientists suggest that rather than keeping peanuts away from children, parents should be introducing them earlier.
Introducing Potential Allergens Early
There are several scientific studies that back up this idea. Researchers looked at huge bodies of data from different populations, one of which commonly feeds peanut products to babies and one which does not.
The results showed that children in cultures that feed them peanuts at an early age are statistically less likely to develop peanut allergies than children from cultures where peanuts are not introduced until later in life.
This research has been replicated multiple times, which indicates that it is information to act on, rather than a fluke.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed their guidelines to encourage parents to feed their children peanuts between the ages of 4 months and 11 months to reduce their risk of developing a peanut allergy.
What to Watch For
Despite this recommendation, it is so important to always keep your individual child in mind when making feeding decisions. If one of your other children has a peanut allergy or peanut allergies run in the family, you may want to consult with a medical professional before introducing this food at a young age.
Since peanuts are such a common allergen, you should be familiar with the signs of an allergic reaction before you introduce this food to your child. Some signs of allergic reactions include:
- Hives, redness, or swelling of the face, tongue, or mouth
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach upset
If you suspect a peanut allergy, your health care practitioner can help you create a plan and a course of action for your child.
Further research may look at if this trend is true of all potential allergens. Medical professionals often recommend avoiding strawberries because of their allergen status, a trend that we may see change in coming years. Research and further study can help you make the best parenting choices you can.
This Site Was Inspired By An Interest in Protecting the Environment:
We had the privilege and joy of learning from Dr. Charlie Stine who instilled a love for the natural world through incredible field trips with the Johns Hopkins Odyssey Certificate program in Environmental Studies. At the time, the program was endorsed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Sadly, after Dr. Stine retired, the program was phased out. We hope that we honor his legacy by shining a bright light on environmental issues and sharing good news about the success of various conservation programs when possible.
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