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Last Updated Friday June 23 2017 07:14 PM IST

Eating eggs, peanuts may ward off food allergies in children

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Peanuts

Introducing eggs and peanuts into child's diet at a young age may reduce their risk of developing food allergy.

Allergies to foods -- like nuts, egg, milk or wheat -- are caused by the malfunctioning and over-reacting of the immune system triggering symptoms of rashes, swelling, vomiting and wheezing.

A new study showed that children who started eating egg between the ages of four and six months had a 40 percent reduced risk of egg allergy compared to children who tried egg later in life.

Children who ate peanuts between the ages of four and eleven months had a 70 percent reduced peanut allergy risk compared to children who ate the food later.

Further, the researchers also found that where 5.4 percent of people with egg allergy was introduced to egg between four and six months of age, 24 cases per 1,000 people were reduced.

For peanuts, with 2.5 percent of people the introduction to the food between four and eleven months, 18 cases reduced per 1,000.

Until now parents were advised to delay giving allergenic foods such as egg, peanut, fish and wheat to their infant.

“However, this new analysis pools all existing data, and suggests introducing egg and peanut at an early age may prevent the development of two of the most common allergies," said lead Author Robert Boyle, at Imperial College London.

In addition, the team analyzed milk, fish (including shellfish), tree nuts - almonds - and wheat, but did not find enough evidence to show introducing these foods at a young age reduces allergy risk.

The researchers cautioned against introducing egg and peanut to a baby who already has a food allergy, or has another allergic condition such as eczema.

"If your child falls into these categories, talk to your doctor before introducing these foods," Boyle said.

Moreover, Boyle also noted that whole nuts should not be given to babies or toddlers due to choking hazard, "If you decide to feed peanut to your baby, give it as smooth peanut butter," he said.

For the study, which is the largest analysis of evidence on the effect of feeding allergenic foods to babies, scientists analyzed data from 146 studies and involved more than 200,000 children.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

(With agency inputs)

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