NPR Story
3:33 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Rethinking Childhood Food Allergies

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 1:55 pm

There has been a change in thinking about childhood food allergies.

For some time now, parents have been told it’s best to delay introducing babies to new foods such as eggs or peanut butter. But researchers now think such a delay may not have a significant impact on whether a child develops food allergies.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology has updated its guidelines and the new thinking is that there is no clear benefit to delaying introduction of these foods. In fact, there may be a benefit to introducing those foods early.

The new thinking comes as food allergies are on the rise. Peanut allergies have doubled over the last 15 years, from about 1 percent of American kids to 2 percent, and there are several theories as to why that is happening.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that about 5 percent of children under five years old have at least one food allergy.

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