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Is it possible that my baby will develop food allergies like myself and my partner?

Is it possible that my baby will develop food allergies as my partner and I have food allergies/intolerances. I have a gluten intolerance or allergy and also I have an intolerance to bananas, and my partner is lactose intolerant. Is there anything I can do to prevent it and could she develop anything this young that I should watch out for, she`s on HA-AR formula for reflux and is 11 weeks old. Thanks

Answer: Hi There, Yes one or more biological parent with an allergy can increase the likelihood of a child experiencing certain allergies. It does depend on the allergy in question as not all are as genetically influenced as others. Allergies can appear at anytime, but most commonly when a protein of some sort has been attacked by babies immune system. If the formula baby is one is fine so far it is likely things will be fine for now. Baby may never experience an allergy. Solids are more likely to be a time to watch more carefully and be mindful of introducing foods one at a time. Also a good quality natural yoghurt at about 7ish months could be helpful in supporting babies gastro-intestinal immunity, plus fish with lovely fish oils. See notes below. There are some things that you may like to keep in mind, I have copied them from my tip sheet on allergies below for you: Bottle-feeding mums ­ the use of specially designed formulas (extra-hydrolysed formula) is generally recommended by doctors and specialists. Although using soy or goats milk-based formulas doesn`t appear to prevent allergy, around half of all children who have a cow`s milk allergy are also allergic to soy.

What about foods and nutrients?

Being such a topical issue researchers are hot on the trail of nutrients and compounds that offer allergy suffers some ease. Research seems to show that many of the beneficial nutrients exert their effect by improving the immune system. For example, it appears that the levels of vitamin C in a mother`s breastmilk are associated with allergy risk in infants. Vitamin C and other antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene in breastmilk may play an anti-inflammatory role in infant allergy. Some other hopeful contenders include:

Fabulous fish and those omega-3 fatty acids

Fish rich in healthy oils (i.e. omega-3 fatty acids) have also been shown to have a protective effect against allergy as well as potentially reducing the symptoms. To date studies indicate that children who eat fresh, oily fish regularly have a higher protection against asthma.

Which fish R best?

Salmon is an excellent source of these fatty acids. Choice (2005) reviewed a number of fish for their fish oil levels and found that white fish (which is the most common type you find commercially) have very little fish oils. Fish that provide a minimum of 500mg of EPA and DHA per 150g serve include:
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Bonito
  • Gemfish
  • Mackerel
  • Mullet
  • Sardines
  • Swordfish
  • Trevally
They also say that even tinned fish such as mackerel, pink and red salmon and sardines (although not tuna) can be good options, all providing reasonable amounts of omega-3s. Just one last word on the larger fish such as Swordfish, they tend to have higher amounts of mercury, so it may be a good idea to avoid those. Healthy bacteria to the rescue - probiotics (acidophilus and bifidus) In many cases the use of probiotics improves intestinal health, immune functioning, bioavailability of nutrients while reducing the symptoms of lactose intolerance and occurrence of allergy. Breastmilk of course, is a rich source and many formulas now have added probiotics (friendly bacteria). Therefore unsweetened naturally fermented yoghurt can be introduced to most infants from around 7 months. Tip! Be aware that many types of yoghurts are simply thickened milk with sugar and fruit added. Real yoghurt is made from fermented milk which is started off with a culture of acidophilus. Because it`s fermented, bacteria partially digest some of the milk sugar (lactose) which enables many lactose-intolerant individuals to cope with these healthy yoghurts.

Other helpful recommendations include:

Avoiding the introduction of a food that you or your partner is allergic to until after the third year, which may allow your little ones immunity to develop fully (check with a professional first). Avoiding food allergens in allergic bubs, e.g. the most common ones such as peanut, egg, tree nuts, milk for the first 2-3 years of life, although small amounts may sometimes be tolerated after this. For parents with a history of a food allergy to avoid the introduction of that food into their offspring`s diet until after the third year, allowing the immune system to be fully developed. Research also suggests that if a child avoids food allergens, for example the most common ones such as peanut, egg, tree nuts, milk for the first 2-3 years of life they may well be able to tolerate small amounts after this. High risk infants should avoid the introduction of milk or soy until after the first year, eggs until after 2 years of age and peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish until after 3 years of age (restricting a diet must be done under the guidance of a suitably qualified professional who will ensure your child doesn`t miss out on any nutrients). For more information contact the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (education@allergy.org.au ). Also the RPAH allergy unit is an extensive resource. Food shopping List Where to go for help:
  • Always seek professional medical advice.
  • For more information and guidance refer to The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) website contains useful information on food allergy written by Australian specialists (www.allergy.org.au ).
  • The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital has an excellent allergy unit, check out their web site for more information at http://www.cs.nsw.gov.au/rpa/allergy
Hope that gives you some ideas and guidance. All the best, Leanne
Answered: 29 Oct 2008