Family Health Guide

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Allergies: Prevention

It’s not always possible to prevent allergies but there are things you can try when your child is a baby to reduce his risk of developing them.   

For allergic rhinitis: 

      If it’s right for you, breastfeed your infant. When you nurse your children, you pass along your immunities to allergens.  

  • Don’t smoke or allow others to smoke in your home or car.

For food allergies:

  • Talk to your pediatrician about when to start your baby on solid food—starting solids before 4 months increases the risk of food allergies. (Waiting past 6 months, which was previously recommended for preventing food allergies, may actually increase your baby’s risk of a wheat allergy.)
  • Introduce foods one at a time, and wait at least two to three days before starting another new food so you can identify potential problems. 
  • Although doctors used to advise against introducing egg whites and wheat until your baby turns 1, and peanut butter and shellfish until age 2, they have recently scrapped those recommendations. “A baby’s immune system is in a teaching state,” says Cox. “You can teach tolerance to foods if there is exposure in the first year or two.” Just be alert to problems that could be symptoms of an allergy, including stomach upset like recurrent colic or diarrhea.