Above: The general guidelines for introducing food to babies that could cause allergies may have been responsible for a rise in food allergies. Christina Stevens reports.
Two medical groups say babies who are at high risk of developing a food allergy can be exposed to potential allergens as early as six months of age.
Dr. Edmond Chan, co-author of the statement, says delaying dietary exposure to peanuts, fish or eggs will not reduce a child’s risk of developing a food allergy.
He says that once a new food is introduced it’s important to continue to offer it regularly to maintain the child’s tolerance.
The statement says that while these foods can be introduced to high-risk babies, the decision when to do so should be based on the parents’ comfort level.
Babies are considered at high risk of developing a food allergy if they have a parent or sibling with an allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis, a food allergy, asthma or allergic rhinitis.
Food allergies affect about seven per cent of Canadians and some research suggests food allergies among babies are increasing, affecting over 10 per cent of one-year-olds.
The statement was endorsed by Dietitians of Canada.