Posted Mar 20, 2011
Many cases of food allergies and eczema – a skin condition marked by itchy rashes – are unavoidable. But dermatologists say these steps may help reduce your child’s risks:
Consider your pregnancy diet. Babies whose mothers eat peanuts are more likely to test positive for peanut allergies, and the same may be true for eggs and egg allergies, according to a recently published article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. However, previous studies have had conflicting results. Talk to your doctor.
Breastfeed your baby. Here’s another plus for nursing: “There is evidence that for at-risk babies, exclusive breast feeding for the first four months reduces the risk of eczema and cow’s milk allergy during the first two years of life,” says Dr. Stephen Shield of Allergy Partners of Eastern Virginia. “At-risk” refers to a child who has a parent or sibling with allergies.
Ask about a specialized formula. If you don’t breastfeed, extensively or partly hydrolyzed formula – mixtures in which protein is broken into smaller parts for easier digestion – may prevent or delay the onset of eczema in at-risk children.
Don’t introduce solid foods before age 4 to 6 months. Rice and oat cereals are good first choices because they rarely trigger allergies. Many pediatricians recommend not feeding highly allergenic foods to a child until age 1 (cow’s milk and citrus fruits), 2 (eggs and wheat) and 3 (peanuts and fish).
Introduce single foods at a time. Give your child a new food every three to five days. That way, you’ll know exactly which one is to blame for any allergic reactions.
Ditch antibacterial soap. Regular soap and water is fine for cleaning – and may be better at preventing allergies as a child’s immune system matures.